There are several types of life jackets to choose from. If you love to feel the sun and water on your skin, you don't have to give it up just to stay safe; some life vests are not bulky at all. You might prefer the inflatable life jackets.
These only take up as much space as a fanny pack, and when they contact water, they inflate automatically. If you hate to wear a life vest, then you should consider an inflatable pfd so you can be protected.
In order for life jackets to be effective, they have to fit properly too. That is why children must not wear adult life vests. Life jackets are made to hold you upright in the water and keep your head positioned so you can continue to breathe even when unconscious. To do that, the vest needs to fit snugly under the chin and arms.
Your life jackets should always be maintained in good repair too. 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. To ensure your life vests will work as they should, make sure they fit correctly, are in good condition, and have been approved by the Coast Guard.
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. If a fire breaks out on your boat, or if it starts to sink, you have to be able to quickly get and put on your life vest in order to save your life. That means the vests should be within arm's reach and not enclosed in bags or cases.
No matter what kind of water activity you enjoy, whether it is white water rafting, skiing, or just boating around the lake, it is always a good idea to keep your life vest on. You need to know how each kind of safety device works so you know which one to choose. For example, inflatable vests may be the most compact, but they are only to be used by adults that can swim. Adults who don't swim well and children should wear vests that are made of foam.
When the unexpected happens, a life jacket just might save your life. You could lose your balance when standing in the boat, or get dizzy and fall overboard; you might run into a stump or catch your boat on fire.
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. Part of being a responsible boater means you take steps to ensure the safety of everyone in your group so the day is filled with fun and good memories rather than tragedy.
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