Choosing the Right Life Jacket

Boating is a fun, recreational past time for many. Water safety is not necessarily the focus of attention for recreational boaters. Yet, water safety is an important part of all water-based activities. It is important to take certain precautions so that your recreational boating experience remains fun. U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) records show that half of all recreational fatalities occur in calm water and are caused by drowning. In most cases, life jackets were not worn.

Life Jackets Must Be Available

Life jackets are mandatory for each person onboard as per the USCG with certain exceptions. The life jackets must be in good condition and be the appropriate size for the intended user. This is especially important for children. Adult-sized life jackets will simply slide off an infant or child, leaving them unprotected. For boats longer than 16 feet long, at least one throwable flotation device is required, either a ring buoy or a cushion.

For adults, the life jacket must be either worn or stowed where they will be readily accessible in the event of an emergency. Children under 13 years old must be wearing a life jacket when the boat is underway unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin. Notably, states can vary in this requirement.

Proper Fit is Important

Generally, life jackets are designed to keep the head above water. To work properly, they must fit properly. If the jacket is too large, it will ride up around the face. If it is too small, it will not be able to keep you afloat. Life jackets are labeled with the size and weight they accommodate. However, it is best to try it on, especially in the water. To test the fit, fasten the jacket and hold your arms above your head. Ask someone to pull up on the jacket. If there is excessive room around the arm openings or if the jacket rides up above your chin, then it is too big. To test the condition, perform both a visual inspection and water test. If the jacket has tears or broken buckles, then it should be replaced. If it is waterlogged, then it will not float and should be discarded.

Types of Life Jackets

There are three types of life jackets, including inherently buoyant, which is primarily made of foam; inflatable, which is only appropriate for adult use and can inflate automatically or manually; and hybrid, which consists of both foam and inflatable material in one unit. There are also a variety of designs that are particularly suited to the type of activity being performed. Be aware that some life jackets do not keep a person’s head above water. This is an important distinction because if someone loses consciousness, they will drown if their life jacket does not keep their head above water.

Cape May Maritime Injury Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for the Safety of Maritime Workers

Boating accidents can cause serious injury or death. If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident, contact the Cape May maritime injury lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. For a free consultation, call us at 888-999-1962 or submit an online form today. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cape May and Wildwood.