Life jackets save lives
Wearing a life jacket while boating is as important as wearing a seat belt while driving in a car or wearing a helmet while riding your bike or motorcycle. According to the U.S. Coast Guard Statistics, drowning was the leading cause of death in nearly 3/4 of boating related fatalities and 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Although the state requires children to wear a life jacket, adults are encouraged to wear one. Adults should set a good example for children by wearing their life jackets.
Remember: life jacket wear doesn't only apply to children – anyone can drown regardless of how old they are and if they consider themselves to be a strong swimmer.
Life jackets float - you don't! Watch this video for information on why it is important to wear a life jacket.
Type I - Offshore
- Intended for those going out in open water where quick rescues may be unlikely
- Most buoyant; can turn someone who is unconscious face-up.
Type II - Near-shore
- Intended for calm, inland water where there is a good chance for quick rescue.
Type III - Floatation aids
- Intended for calm, inland water where there is a good chance of fast rescue.
- Generally will not turn an unconscious user face up.
- Activities: fishing, hunting canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, wakeboarding and other inland water tow sports.
Type IV - Throwable device
- Intended to be thrown to someone overboard.
- Of little use to unconscious or exhausted swimmers.
- Not recommended for children or nonswimmers.
Type III & V - Inflatable device
- Hydrostatic (inflates automatically upon immersion or when manually activated).
- Manual (only inlfates when manually activated).
- Belt Pack (worn on our waist. Only inflates when manually activated; must be placed over head once activated.
- Inflatable life jackets requires maintenance and replacing the CO2 cartridge after each use. Not allowed for use or wear by children under 16 years of age; some inflatable life jackets are not approved for certain activities. Always check the label for directions and requirements.
One half of recreational boating fatalities happen on calm water. In most incidences, life jackets were on the boat, but they were not worn.
- Life Jackets - The best choice is the one that fits properly and is the right one for the activity.
- It needs to help keep your head above the water. If it's too big, the life jacket will ride up aorund your face. Too small and it won't be able o keep your body afloat.
- Life jackets made for adults will not fit children.
Make sure to try it on and do the following:
- Get one that is U.S. Coast Guard - approved life jacket (PFD)
- Check the label and the manufacturers ratings to make sure that it fits your size and weight.
- Check to make sure the life jacket can properly fasten/buckle up.
- Check the fit by holding your arms straight up over your head.
- Have a friend or family member grasp the tops of the arm openings and slowly pull up.
- Make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the jacket doesn't ride up over your chin.
- Check to see if it works - test it in shallow water under safe and supervised conditions. This way you will know how it will feel when needed. Do the same for family members, especially children.
It's the Law All vessels (including canoes and kayaks) must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) - approved Type I, II or III life jacket (PFD) for each person on the boat. In addition to that requirement, one:
- USCG - approved Type IV (throwable) floatation device must onboard vessels 16 feet or longer. Canoes and kayaks are exempt from this requirement.
- Children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG - approved life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet in length, unless in a fully enclosed area.
- Each person onboard a personal watercraft (PWC) and anyone being towed behind a boat must wear a Type I, II, or III USCG approved life jacket