Life jackets can save your life and the ones you love. According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning is the leading cause of death in nearly 3/4 of boating related fatalities and 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Every parent wants to make sure his/her family is as safe as possible, especially on the water. Although the state only requires children to wear a life jacket, adults are encouraged to wear one. Adults set a good example for children by wearing their life jackets.
Life jacket wear doesn’t only apply to children – anyone can drown regardless of age and swimming capabilities.
There is basic information about life jackets that is important to know.
Make sure you know the federal and state laws in addition to your local ordinances.
Understand there are different types of life jackets and the most appropriate one to wear depends on your location and water activity.
Learn how to properly fit life jackets for you and your family.
Know where to find an extra life jacket if you find you don't have enough life jackets for everyone, there are free loaner stations throughout the state.
Learn about the national WearIt campaign, and pledge to always wear your life jacket while on the water.
State law requires all vessels (including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards) must have at least one properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket (Personal Flotation Device) for each person on the boat. In addition to that requirement, one:
USCG - approved Type IV (throwable) flotation device must on board 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 on board a personal watercraft (PWC) and anyone being towed behind a boat must wear a USCG approved life jacket.
Contact your local police/sheriff's department or home owner's association to find out if there's additional ordinances.
One half of recreational boating fatalities happen on calm water. Nine out of ten drownings happen on inland waters and a few hundred feet from shore. In many incidences, life jackets were on board, but were not worn.
There are multiple types of 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 around your face. If it's too small, it won't be able to keep your body afloat.
Life jackets made for adults will not fit children.
The Washington State Parks Boating Program makes it easier for boating families to access life jackets and stay safe with a Life Jacket Loaner Program. We provide life jackets to boaters at public boating locations throughout the state.
If you discover your family doesn't have enough properly fitting life jackets on board, you can simply visit a loaner site and check out an infant, child, youth or adult life jacket for the day or the weekend - at no charge. When you're finished, you return the jackets to the same location. Life jacket loaner stationsare located at marinas, near boat ramps and at various state parks.
This program and the life jackets purchased for loaner stations is made possible through a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund which is administered by the U.S. Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Safety funds.