County offers free life jackets through ‘Kids Don’t Float’ program

DNR: Boating-related deaths up significantly this year

Dane County sheriff’s officials are reminding boaters of their personal flotation device loaner station in the wake of the recent drowning on Lake Mendota.

Dane County’s “Kids Don’t Float” program features a loaner station at the Babcock County Park boat launch in McFarland, according to a release. The program is a partnership between Dane County and the Department of Natural Resources.

The program allows anyone who may need a life jacket to borrow one at no cost, thanks to funding from the DNR, officials said. Babcock boat launch was chosen because it’s one of the busiest boat launches in the Madison chain of lakes.

The loaner station has life jackets and throwable PFDs for adults and children, according to the release. There is no charge, but officials ask users to hang the life jackets on the hooks at the station when they leave.

Dane County deputies will be patrolling lakes daily, officials said. A citation for boaters not having enough PFDs on board can be about $168.