Life jacket station opening at Grady Brown Park

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 11:56 PM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - When you’re going out on the water, being prepared can be the difference between life, or death.

That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Sea Tow Foundation are teaming up to encourage water safety in the form of a free-to-use life jacket station. On May 9th, Walton County Commissioners approved for the agencies to add the station at Grady Brown Park. It’s uncertain of when the station will be added to the park, but sources tell NewsChannel 7 it will be soon.

The Sea Tow Foundation reportedly approved the U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary for a grant for the station, so it will not cost Walton County taxpayers. U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary Division Commander Doug Ritchie told NewsChannel 7 that the life jacket loaner station will use the honor system, meaning anyone can come and grab a life jacket if they need one, and they will be trusted to return it when they are done.

”This is a grant that was given to the Coast Guard Auxiliary by the Sea Tow Foundation,” Ritchie said. “And as the auxiliary commander responsible for the area, we believe the eastern Choctawhatchee Bay area was ripe for making sure the public had a proper life jacket availability.”

Ritchie said this will be the first life jacket loaner station in Walton County. He mentioned there are more than 1,000 stations across the U.S. and said adding one at Grady Brown Park is of a bigger push for safety within Walton County.

”In working with the parks department and with the approval of the commissioners, we believe hosting it at a park that is frequently visited by the public, would better address the immediate need for a life jacket, such as Grady Brown Park,” Ritchie said.

To read up on life jacket laws in Florida, click here.