Township of Lakes stresses safety

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    BYRAM - As the weather warms and more and more local residents head to local lakes to cool down, the potential for water-related accidents rises. With that in mind, the Byram Police Department is stressing the importance of putting life vests on children who are near water. "When you're dealing with drowning victims, it does not take long for a rescue effort to turn into a recovery effort," said Sergeant Raymond Rafferty. "That is why we want to make sure that children are wearing their life vests, and are never placed into that scenario." Local resident Elijah Vandermark, who owns a boat and visits his brother-in-law on Cranberry Lake, said that he agrees with that advice 100 percent. "I have a 3-year-old who's been riding on the boat since he was 6 months old, and he's always worn a vest," said Vandermark. "I wouldn't let him on the boat without it." He also said that a vest is a one-time investment, and that there is no cost comparison when it comes to his child's life. It has been nearly four years since anyone has drowned within any of Byram's 14 lakes. "Most of our lakes are small, so you don't have the racing problems with boats," said Rafferty, when asked why he feels Byram has such a low number of incidents. He also said that general knowledge of the importance of vests is increasing, which in turn is causing fewer and fewer problems. Vandermark said that his brother-in-law makes his children wear vests even when they are not in a boat. "If they are playing near the dock, they are wearing a vest," said Vandermark. Rafferty added that life vests should be worn year round, not just during the warmer months. "Especially in cold water, your muscles contract and you can't swim," said Rafferty. "You don't let kids ride a bike without a helmet, you shouldn't let them in a lake without a vest." Patricia Day, executive director of the Sussex County Chapter of the Red Cross, said that part of the Red Cross's mission is to make people safe around the water. The chapter also regularly offers CPR and first aid classes that are not just aimed at professional rescuers like lifeguards and police officers.