Plastic Bottle Lifesavers Save Lives and Dollars

Plastic bottle lifesavers cap expenses while saving swimmers from the drink.Plastic bottle lifesavers cap expenses while saving swimmers from the drink.
Times are tough in Japan and the public service is being urged to mind their expenses - the Coast Guard is no exception. Now a bright idea by some junior high school students is helping the Coast Guard save money without detracting from their primary duty: saving lives.

Using plastic bottles as flotation devices isn't a new idea but it certainly is a good one. That's what the Coast Guard offices in several Japanese cities are thinking, spurred on the by well-publicized rescue of a drowning man by some students who built an improvised lifesaver made out of plastic bottles.

Now you can find bright red lifesavers made from recycled "PET" (polyethylene) bottles prominently displayed at the Coast Guard offices in Takamatsu and Wakamatsu; other seaside towns are sure to follow. Not only are the lifesavers effective, they cost a mere 200 yen (about $2) compared to between 5,000 and 20,000 yen ($50 to $200) for new, official lifesaving vests.



Explains Masashi Akizuki, chief of the traffic section at the Takamatsu Coast Guard office, "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." (via TokyoMango and The Japan Times, images via Wakamatsu Coast Guard Office)