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#happylife: What you need to know about life jackets before floating down the Spokane River

SPOKANE, Wash. - As the weather gets warmer, folks tend to get creative with ways to cool off. One thing that remains constant on Spokane summer bucket lists is having fun on the Spokane River.

Any activity on the Spokane River can be dangerous, with it's chilly temperatures and varying conditions. For those looking to tube, raft or kayak along the river, wearing a life jacket isn't just encouraged, it's the law. No matter your age or swimming ability.

According to the Spokane County Boating Safety Ordinance (section 6.03.020, article 2), “all persons regardless of age shall wear a personal floatation device while on moving water.”

A personal floatation device can be a life preserver, buoyant, vest, ring buoy or buoy cushion that is designed to float a person in the water and has the United States Coast Guard approval, as explained in the ordinance.

Life jackets cannot be attached to a tube or shoved inside a kayak. They must be on each individual, zipped, buttoned and fitted appropriately! Failure to do so can result in a $76 ticket or worse.

Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy James Ebel has worked with the marine unit for the department for five years and assisted on many rescues. Of those that were recovery efforts, life jackets were not present.

This summer, Deputy Ebel's truck is packed full of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, ready to be given out to those on inner tubes or rafts, thanks to a partnership with Avista. 

If you aren't able to grab one from the Sheriff's Office, and don't have the money to buy a new one, stop by a life jacket loaner station. You can find a list of locations here.

In collaboration with the Spokane Regional Health District's drowning prevention campaign, Big 5 Sporting Goods also offers a 25 percent off coupon for a life jacket purchase here.

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