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Responsible Boating Begins With The Life Jackets

Life jackets are an important part of boating safety. In fact, you may be required by law to have these safety devices on board your boat. Unfortunately, they don't do their intended job unless they are worn at all times while on the water. You never know when an accident will happen and you might not have time to grab a personal floatation device when your life depends upon it.

There are several types of life jackets to choose from. So while you may enjoy feeling the spray of the water and sun on your skin, you should know these safety devices don't have to cover you completely and feel bulky. In fact, you could opt for inflatable life jackets. These are as small as a fanny pack and immediately inflate when they come into contact with water. An inflatable PFD is the ideal choice for someone who hates to wear a life vest.

In order for life jackets to be effective, they have to fit properly too. That is why children must not wear adult life vests. These devices are designed to keep you upright and positioned properly, so you can breathe even if you are unconscious. The vest has to fit under the arms and chin snugly.

In addition, the life jackets must always be kept in good repair. One won't do any good if it leaks or has broken parts. They should be checked for buoyancy at least every year and discarded if they don't work properly or are faded from sun damage. Along with a good fit and being in good condition, your life jackets should be Coast Guard approved so you can rest assured they will perform as expected.

The Coast Guard requires a life vest for every person on board a boat, but it isn't mandatory that boaters wear them at all times. It is a best practice to always wear a life vest, but if you don't, you must have one readily accessible. You must be able to quickly grab a floatation device when your boat catches fire or is in an accident. That means the vests should be within arm's reach and not enclosed in bags or cases.

It is recommended you wear a life jacket when you go boating, water ski, or engage in white water rafting. Understand how each type of life jacket operates so you choose the best one. For example, inflatable vests may be the most compact, but they are only to be used by adults that can swim. Vests constructed of foam are best for kids and non-swimming adults.

A life jacket could save your life when the unexpected occurs. You might be knocked off balance when fishing, faint from an illness, be in a boat collision, or sink with your boat when it takes on water.

By having a personal flotation device for every member of your family, and making sure they are worn or within quick reach, you can rest easy knowing you are prepared if an unfortunate event occurs. Being a responsible boater means you take every precaution possible to ensure the safety of your group and other boaters, so everyone can enjoy a great day of fun on the water.