Splashing more safely

Klineline Pond now has life jackets to lend

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter


photoDevyn Thomas, 5, of Vancouver, looks back toward shore at his mother, Diana Thomas, while swimming Friday at Klineline Pond. Thomas said that Devyn had been eager to wear the life jacket.

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Did you know ?

Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death among children 1 to 14 years old, behind

motor vehicle crashes.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

photoDevyn Thomas of Vancouver runs back to shore during a recent summer at Klineline Pond. Clark County found the money to pay for lifeguards at Klineline Pond in Salmon Creek Regional Park this summer, but now it can't find qualified folks to fill the positions.

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Elizabeth Cervantes and her kids headed out to go swimming Friday afternoon, then realized they'd left their life jackets at home.

Klineline Pond had life jackets waiting for them.

This is the first week the popular swimming site just west of Interstate 5 has had its life-jacket loaner program in operation.

"We happened to forget ours, and it came in handy," said Elizabeth Cervantes, whose 5-year-old son, Esteban, was wearing a bright yellow life jacket. "It was perfect."

Diana Thomas said her 5-year-old son Devyn asked for a life jacket when they arrived Friday.

"We were here yesterday, but all the jackets in his size were gone," Thomas said.

About a dozen life jackets in various sizes -- infant through adult -- are available for free while swimmers enjoy Klineline Pond.

The life jackets are stored in a shed next to the concession stand. Users are asked to return them to the shed before heading home.

Several local agencies came together in the project, said Anne Johnston of Clark County Public Health -- the lead agency in the local Safe Kids coalition.

"Fire District 6 was very interested in a life-jacket loaner station because they responded to a near-drowning-death last summer," Johnston said.

Deputy Todd Baker, with the sheriff's Marine Patrol unit, is a member of the Washington drowning-prevention task force. He made a presentation in March to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee promoting the program. Parks officials gave the go-ahead.

The life jackets were provided by the sheriff's office and the Seattle-based Paris White Foundation, started by the family of a 2-year-old girl who drowned.

There are no lifeguards at Klineline Pond. The lifeguard program was eliminated three years ago because of budget cuts.

But parents should always designate somebody to be a water watcher. Johnston said: "Never leave children unattended."

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com.