Whether you’re fishing, paddle-boarding, or simply enjoying a boat ride, you should wear a life jacket at all times for any activity that requires a large body of water. Accidents strike in an instant, and there isn’t time to reach for a stowed life jacket when they do.
A few facts you may not know:
- 80% of boating deaths are due to drowning.
- 83% of victims were NOT wearing a life jacket.
- 2/3 of drowning victims are good swimmers.
There are several styles of life jackets, and their design has evolved from the bulky orange ones that may first come to mind. To find which style is best for a certain activity, click here.
An important part of wearing a life jacket is making sure it fits properly. You don’t want your life jacket to be too large or too small. Remember, “a snug fit is a proper fit.”
To test the fit of your life jacket:
- Make sure it is properly fastened and that all straps, buckles, or zippers are secure.
- Hold your arms straight up over your head and ask a friend to take hold of the tops of the arm openings and pull up gently.
Caring for your life jacket will extend its use. Remember to:
- Use properly.
- Dry after use.
- Watch for rips, waterlogging, or mildew.
- Hand wash in mild detergent.
- Store in a dry place when not using.
- Refer to owner’s manual for specific maintenance.
Make wearing a life jacket a habit, and keep in mind that “Wearing a life jacket is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of wisdom.” —Kelli Toth, Alaska Office of Boating Safety