As you prepare to take to the water this Labor Day, don’t forget the most important part of your trip- your life jackets.
Despite how good of a swimmer you may be, anything can happen while you are on the water that may prevent you from having a safe holiday.
The U.S. Coast Guard offers these tips on How to Choose the Right Life Jacket.
Modern life jackets are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Many are thin and flexible. Some are built right into fishing vests or hunter coats. Others are inflatable — as compact as a scarf or fanny pack until they hit water, when they automatically fill with air.
There’s no excuse not to wear a life jacket on the water!
Things to Know:
- Certain life jackets are designed to keep your head above water and help you remain in a position which permits proper breathing.
- To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and over must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well.
- All states have regulations regarding life jacket wear by children.
- Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. Special life jackets are available. To work correctly, a life jacket must be worn, fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.
- Life jackets should be tested for wear and buoyancy at least once each year. Waterlogged, faded, or leaky jackets should be discarded.
- Life jackets must be properly stowed.
- A life jacket — especially a snug-fitting flotation coat or deck-suit style — can help you survive in cold water.
All Recreational Boats Must Carry Life Jacket:
All recreational boats must carry one wearable life jacket (Type I, II, III or Type V lifejacket) for each person aboard. A Type V lifejacket provides performance of either a Type I, II, or III lifejacket (as marked on its label) and must be used according to the label requirements. Any boat 16ft and longer (except canoes and kayaks) must also carry one throwable lifejacket (Type IV lifejacket).
Lifejackets must be:
- Coast Guard approved,
- in good and serviceable condition, and
- the appropriate size for the intended user.
- Wearable lifejackets must be readily accessible.
- You must be able to put them on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.).
- They should not be stowed in plastic bags, in locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them.
- The best lifejacket is the one you will wear.
- Though not required, a lifejacket should be worn at all times when the vessel is underway. A wearable lifejacket can save your life, but only if you wear it.
- Throwable devices must be immediately available for use.