PET bottle lifesavers catch on with coast guard

TAKAMATSU, Kagawa Pref. (Kyodo) Regional Japan Coast Guard offices have started introducing inexpensive lifesavers made with used plastic bottles instead of using expensive lifesaver vests.

The Takamatsu Coast Guard Office has placed the lifesavers at three breakwaters in Kagawa Prefecture popular for fishing. A brand-new lifesaver costs ¥5,000 to ¥20,000 depending on the size, but one made from plastic bottles only costs about ¥200.

“We hope to set up the lifesavers at more places. If you find a person who is drowning, avoid swimming to him or her, and (instead) throw a plastic bottle lifesaver,” said Masashi Akizuki, 56, chief of the traffic section at the Takamatsu Coast Guard office.

The Takamatsu Coast Guard Office began to set up the flotation devices after junior high school students and an organizer of a children’s activity group in Sanuki, Kagawa Prefecture, rescued a person who was nearly drowning with a raft made with 16 plastic bottles.

Plastic bottle lifesavers were first created by an officer at the Wakamatsu Coast Guard Office in Kitakyushu three years ago.