Wear It! Life Jacket Awareness

National Safe Boating Week is May 21 - 27, 2016

Visit the Wear It! North American Safe Boating Campaign website for complete details of National Safe Boating Week.

It's a fact, life jackets save lives! Here is some important life jacket information. For full U.S. Coast Guard life jacket requirements and recommendations please visit the U.S. Coast Guard website.

If a life jacket fits properly...

  • It will 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 will not be able to keep your body afloat.
  • Life jackets designed for adults will not work for children!

How Do Life Jackets Save Lives?

  • When capsized in rough water.
  • When thrown from the boat as a result of a collision.
  • When injured by rocks or submerged objects.
  • When unconscious from carbon monoxide fumes.
  • When tossed into freezing water.
  • When thrown off balance while fishing.
  • When unable to swim because of heavy or waterlogged clothing.

Try it on for size!

  • Check the manufacturer’s label to ensure that the life jacket is a proper fit for your size and weight.
  • Make sure the jacket is properly fastened.
  • Ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up.
  • Make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the jacket does not ride up over your chin or face.
  • For the best fit, try the life jacket in shallow water under safe and supervised conditions.

TYPE I: Offshore Life Jackets
These vests are geared for rough or remote waters where rescue may take awhile. They provide the most buoyancy, are excellent for flotation, and will turn most unconscious persons face up in the water.

TYPE II: Near-Shore Vests
These vests are good for calm waters when rescue is likely. A Type II may not turn some unconscious wearers face up in the water.

TYPE III: Flotation Aids
These vests or full-sleeved jackets are good for calm waters when quick assistance or rescue is likely. They are not recommended for rough waters since they will not turn most unconscious persons face up. Type III PFDs are used for water sports such as water-skiing. Some Type III PFDs are designed to inflate when you enter the water.

TYPE IV: Throwable Devices
These cushions and ring buoys are designed to be thrown to someone in trouble. Since a Type IV PFD is not designed to be worn, it is neither for rough waters nor for persons who are unable to hold onto it.

TYPE V: Special-Use Devices
These vests, deck suits, hybrid PFDs, and others are designed for specific activities such as windsurfing, kayaking, or water-skiing. Some Type V PFDs are designed to inflate when you enter the water. To be acceptable, Type V PFDs must be worn and used in accordance with their label.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

  • All vessels 16 feet in length or longer must carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard—approved PFD (life jacket) for each person on board or being towed. Vessels less than 16 feet in length must carry one wearable or one throwable USCG—approved PFD for each person on board or being towed. Under federal law, however, a wearable PFD is required for each person on board regardless of vessel length.
  • Children under 7 years of age must wear a USCG—approved PFD at all times while on board any vessel, unless the child is confined in a totally enclosed area of the vessel such as the cabin area of a houseboat or day-cruiser.
  • One USCG—approved Type IV personal flotation device must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer and readily accessible, in addition to the above requirements.
  • Each person riding on a PWC must wear a USCG—approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.

Besides being USCG—approved, all PFDs must be:

  • In good and serviceable condition.
  • Readily accessible, which means you are able to put the PFD on quickly in an emergency. PFDs may not be stowed in closed or locked compartments.
  • Of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.

Simply wearing a life jacket isn’t enough – anyone putting on a jacket should make sure that it fits properly and the straps, buckles or zipper are secure.