Life jackets are necessary equipment for all boats and required by the U.S. Coast Guard. Your
boat insurance company will expect you to comply with the U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
United Marine Underwriters has listed many types of life jackets which are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Not necessarily the large, uncomfortable, orange life vests which were required by parents to be worn while on
outings in the family boat.
Times have changed and so have life jackets.
What has not changed is the message– a life jacket cannot save your life if you are not wearing it.
Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard reveal that 70% of all drowning deaths occur from a boating incident and
85% of those victims – were not wearing their life vest.
Many people tend to think they will have time to grab their life jackets in case of an emergency or worse they
will have time to not only grab theirs but grab their children’s as well. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.
Life jackets are made to buy time for a rescue and to keep an unconscious or conscious person's head up and out of
the water till help can get to them.
Remember, it only takes 60 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 seconds for a child to drown.
Federal law requires there be a Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III,
or V life vest for each passenger on a boat and if the boat is 16 feet or larger it is required to also have at least one Type
IV throwable PFD as well, such as a ring.
Purchasing and making
sure the correct types of boat insurance and Coast Guard approved life jackets, as well as the number
of life vests needed are on board is just the first steps to having a safe and fun boating experience. Boat owners must make
sure to keep the life jackets or life vests in good condition. Check them at least once a year at the beginning of each new
boating season to make sure they are ready for use. Test them for their buoyancy and if they have cracks from wear and tear,
are waterlogged, faded, or leaky get rid of them. It is time for new life jackets that are to be stored correctly. Always
let them drip dry before putting them away.
There are different types of life jackets, life vests, and inflatable life jackets. Different activities require different
kinds of life jackets or life vests. Check below to see which is the most appropriate for your needs.
While doing that, parents should keep in mind that children grow and they grow quickly. Their life jackets should grow
along with them. Whether it is for an adult or a child, the life vest should always be worn snug and a child’s ears or chin
should never be able to slip through.
Most states have now implemented laws requiring children to wear life jackets or life vests while in a boat on the water,
whether moving or not. The minimum age requirement depends on the state and in the case those states that do not have laws
pertaining to children’s life jackets, the U.S. Coast Guard does
and it supersedes and takes over stating that children under the age of 13 must have on a Coast Guard approved life vest while
in a boat unless they are in the cabin or down below. Even though these laws are in place, ultimately it is the parent’s decision
to place that life jacket or vest on their child and make sure they keep them on and are protected.
The same goes for elderly and even for the
family pet. Making sure everyone is safe with a life jacket on, including the boat owner and other adults onboard, is the best
way to ensure those that got on the boat, safely get off at the end of the day.
Click on the link below for information per state regarding laws pertaining to children and their life vests.
You buy boat insurance to protect yourself against loss. Being prepared is the best way to reduce
your chance of loss; and being prepared means keeping your life jackets in good condition and making sure to have the
appropriate number for every person onboard.
Quick Links for More Information on Life Jackets