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Boating Know How
Wearing a Life Vest

Wearing Your Life Jacket

Although some boaters might find life jackets inconvenient, they are one of the most necessary items to have on any vessel. Life jackets have proven extremely useful in ... read more life-threatening/emergency situations, and give overall support and reassurance to boaters, whether they are in the boat or the water.

There are several different types of life jackets ranging in materials, sizes, colors, and many other features. Some are better suited for fishing and hunting from your boat, while others are better for personal water crafts or ski boats. Make sure that there are plenty of life jackets for the maximum number of passengers that will regularly be boarding. Here are some important things you should remember about the life jackets you invest in:

  • Most life jackets are designed to keep you above water in a position that will allow you breathe properly.
  • Along with life jackets, there should be at least one throwable flotation device designed to throw out (buoys, life savers, etc.).
  • Children must ALWAYS be wearing life jackets while on board. Wearing a life vest is a requirement by all 50 states.
  • For safety reasons, do not attempt to use adult-sized life jackets on children.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard urges boaters to test their life vests at least once a year to test buoyancy and durability. Any defects in the life jacket should result in the disposal of the life jacket.
  • Some life jackets can help people survive in harsh water environments.
Life jackets are the most effective in the following scenarios:
  • Shipwrecks
  • Sinking in rough sea conditions
  • When thrown from a vessel
  • When tossed into freezing water
  • For those who are not strong swimmers

Life jackets will save a life. Investing in life jackets can only help to prevent harm or accident. We recommend posting a question on the iboats.com Forum page to receive additional opinions on which types of life jackets to purchase depending on individual specifications.

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Maintaining Your Life Vest

Life Jackets, Vests, & Inflatable PFDs can last for years when the right type of care in cleaning and storage is taken. ... read more

Girl with Life Jacket On

To make the most of your purchase, follow these steps:

Cleaning & Drying

  1. When washing, use a sponge and mild detergent (if necessary).
  2. Do NOT use solvent based cleaners.
  3. Let drip-dry in ventilated area. Do not attempt to speed up the drying process by using any type of heat source
  4. Drying in non-direct sunlight will help prevent fading.

Storage

  1. Make sure the life jacket is completely dry before putting in storage; any moisture has a good chance of leading to mold or mildew.
  2. Keep in a DRY place. If storing in your boat, make sure your boat is moisture free
  3. Again, keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.

Safety Check for Inflatable PFDs

  1. If your life jacket is the Automatic Inflatable style, you'll want to remove the CO2 Cartridge.
  2. Check the cartridge for damage and make sure it hasn't previously activated without your awareness -CO2 cartridges can only be used once . If there is any damage or if the cartridge has been activated, replace at once.
  3. Clean all areas using a mild detergent, including the manual inflation valve & CO2 cartridge detonation mechanism. Make sure to check for damage along the way.
With the proper cleaning and storage, your PFDs will stay fresh and look new for many years and best of all, when you pass a vest to a friend to wear, it won't smell like an old gym sock, especially in inside your boat.

Thanks to Wayne at Kent Watersports and the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association for help with this article.

Photo by mikebaird

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Life Jacket USCG Requirements (Video)

Learn from Keith the Boating Guy on the requirements for wearing a life jacket while boating. This is brought to you by Discover Boating. ... read more



Video Transcript

Hi, this is Keith the Boating Guy. Another common question I get is "What's up with life jackets?" What's required to have a life jacket on a boat?

Let me start by talking about federal regulations. They require that all recreational boats must carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board. You should adhear to you State laws regarding life jacket usage and requirement. From State to State sometimes the laws change. In States that have no children's laws for wearing life jackets, the U.S. Coast guard requires all children age 13 and under wear a life jacket while on the deck of the boat while it is underway. Remember to check with your State to see what the laws are in your State where you boat. Now if you take your boat and trailer from State to State, make sure you check between States while you travel around.

Now to meet Federal guidelines life jackets must be approved by the Coast Guard, in good servicable condition, readily accessable and the right size for the intended user.

Now's a good time to interject, how do you know if you have the right fitting life jacket for your child? 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 is a very good idea to take you kid with you when you go shopping. There's lots of fun things out there that kids would like. For example, check this one out. Nice and bright. Kid picks it out. Much more likely to want to wear this. So remember, if they are 13 and under, they have to wear this when they are out in the boat with you.

Now, what if they are smaller than this one. This one is a 50 to 90 pound jacket. For smaller infants, they'll need to have a life jacket with a head rest on it. It also has a strap between the legs. This one is good for infants, up to 30 pounds.

Now when you put your kid in a lift jacket, you want to make sure it is 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 the child's jacket up over the child's ears over their head. They actually stay in the jacket.

Once you get the right fitting one for the life jacket, it's 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 is a very, very good idea to wear your life jacket when you are out on the water.

We'll see you out their soon...

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wearing a life jacket

USCG - Never is a Long Time - Lifevests (Video)

Learn the importance of wearing a life jacket, "Never is a long time." Presented by Boating Magazine. ... read more



Video Transcript

[Dad] Okay girls let’s go. Shailee, Shailee you forgot to put on your life vest.

[Shailee] Come on dad you know I hate that thing. I’m never wearing it again.

[Dad] Oh Jayla, did you put the drain plug in?

[Jayla] Uhh, oops.

[Narrator] Never is a long time. Coast Guard regulations require that many boats have level rotations should they be fully flooded. In fact Shailee did not know. Another fact Shailee did not understand was the increased risk boaters faced when failing to wear a life jacket.

Roughly half of all boating accident fatalities are victims of drowning and 84% of those did not wear a life jacket.

[Shailee] Cool we can tuck our tunes in right here.

[Narrator] With today’s comfortable designs there is no good reason to avoid that precaution.
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importance of wearing a life jacket

Importance of Wearing a Life Jacket (Video)

Learn the importance of always wearing your life jacket while boating. Presented by Boating Magazine. ... read more



Video Transcript

My name is Greg Nelson. I’m the vice president of marketing Hyper Lite Wakeboards and before this I was a professional wakeboarder from back in the 90s. And as being part of that early generation it was our job to bring wakeboarding to the masses and show people what we thought what wakeboarding was and what it could be. A lot of us, we really thought we were invincible, we didn’t always wear our life jackets.

Back in 1999 I had my company Double Up Wakeboards and we were embarking on the second year of our wakeboard tour. It was called the Double Up experience. And Corey Kraut was one of my team riders at the time and if you ever knew Corey you knew why I had him with me on the road. His personality was infectious no matter what the situation was. If Corey was there you were having fun. It was a good time. Corey just lightened the mood with everybody. The team was in Texas, Corey being there with the RV on the boat doing demos. I got a call on Sunday, they said Corey was gone. And I was like “What do you mean?”. You know I have lived that moment; I have relived it many times since then. Corey was riding without a life jacket. You know he was kind of jumping towards the chase boat, caught a tow side edge and just went down really really hard.

You know when you watch it, you can see that the impact that he took was just horrendous. The motion of his body was probably carrying him down. Because the follow boat was right there, they were in the water on top of his spot within seconds. Nobody found him, nobody saw him, they were in, you know he was gone. It wasn’t until three days later I think where Corey’s body surfaced. I have watched that crash many tmes since. Had he had a life jacket on, we at least would’ve found him. We would have; they would’ve found him right away. And you know, who knows, Corey could have been with us today.

I don’t think Corey ever wanted to be like a martyr for life jackets safety or anything, but man I know he would rather be around today. And every one of his friends and family would love to have him with us today as well. So we’re your life jacket, be safe, don’t be telling this story some other way.
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About Life Jackets & PFDs

Putting Safety First With Jackets, PFD's and Vest

When it comes to Life-Jackets, we know our customers don't joke around. That's why we offer Coast Guard approved Life-Vests & PFDs for every need, whether it be wakeboarding, fishing, to inexpensive back-ups for your boating guests. Our mammoth selection offering a variety of types, sizes, styles, and top brands such as Kent, Mustang, Jet Pilot and Kwik Tek, we guarantee we've got something for you, the family, and even the dog! Looking for matching life-jackets for the entire family, check out our General Purpose Life Jackets & Vests. Many of the products in this category have variation sizes to match the different sizing needs of your family members. Concerned about your youngsters? Check out our Kids, Infants & Toddler PFD category where we offer a variety of life jackets that use a head flap designed to keep your child's head above the water line.