What are the Life Jacket Requirements for Boating?

Hi, this is Keith, the boating guy.

Another common question I get is, “What’s up with life jackets? What’s required for having a life jacket on a boat?”

Well, let me start by talking about federal regulations. They require that all recreational boats must carry one wearable life jacket for each person aboard. You should adhere, though, to your state laws regarding life jacket usage and requirements. From state-to-state, laws sometimes change, and for states that have no children’s laws for wearing life jackets, the U.S. Coastal Guard requires that all children age 13 and under wear a life jacket while on the deck of the boat that’s under way. Remember, check with your state to see what the laws are in your state where you boat.

Now if you take your boat and your trailer it from state-to-state, make sure you check between states as you travel around.

Now, to meet federal guidelines, life jackets must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), in good, serviceable condition, readily accessible, and the right size for the intended user. Now is a good time to interject, how do you know if you’ve got the right fitting life jacket for your child. Well, remember this, life jackets for children are based on weight, not age. So, before you go shopping, make sure you know your child’s weight. Also, it’s a very good idea to take your kid with you when you go shopping. There are lots of fun things out there that kid will like. For example, check this one out (displays Little Mermaid life jacket), nice and bright, and a kid picks it out, and is much more likely to want to wear this. And remember, if they’re 13 and under, they have to wear this when they’re out on the boat with you.

Body Glove Infant’s Phantom USCG Approved Neoprene Pfd Life Vest

Now what if they’re smaller than (the Little Mermaid jacket), this one is a 50-90 pound life jacket. Well, for small infants, they will need to have a life jacket that has the back headrest on it and also has a strap between their legs. This (pink life jacket) is good for infants up to 30 pounds.

Now, when you put your child in a life jacket, you want to make sure it’s a nice, snug fit. The best way to check this is to grab it by the shoulders right here, lift up on the child, and you want to make sure you don’t pull that child’s jacket up over their ears and over their head. This is to make sure that they actually stay in the jacket.

Now once you get the right fitting one for the life jacket, get them something fun they want to wear, and you have a life jacket on the boat for every other person, you’re ready to hit the water. Also, remember it’s a very, very good idea to wear your life jacket when out on the water. Hope to see you out there soon. Take care and safe boating!

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  1. […] many lives, people today still don’t pay enough attention to the importance of having the correct type of boating life jacket on board your boat. Life jackets, or personal flotation devices, are critical to have on board, and […]

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