LIFE JACKETS SAVE LIVES AND THAT’S SEXY
Life jackets aren’t meant to make you look beautiful (though they have come a long way from the orange summer-camp specials). That’s not the point. Your life is the point – and your family’s lives.
80% OF BOATING FATALITIES WERE FROM DROWNING. 83% OF THOSE WERE NOT WEARING A LIFE JACKET.*
Many boaters, new and experienced alike, have a laundry list of why they don’t wear a life jacket: “It’s uncomfortable,” “I look stupid,” “I know how to swim” and “If I need it, I’ll put it on.” The last one always gets us. Try putting on your life jacket while treading water. It’s not easy. And it’s impossible when you’re drowning.
Imagine your whole family getting thrown overboard without their life jackets. Who’s going to save whom?
More important than all of these why nots is the why.
You wear a life jacket for the same reason you wear your seat belt in a car – because you cannot predict the unpredictable: a log hidden below the surface of the water, a reckless boater, a rogue wave or wake. You cannot control how you will get thrown out of your boat, and if you’re knocked unconscious, then what? But none of this will be your concern because you wear your life jacket. Right?
The U.S. Coast Guard labels life jackets according to the boating activity for its intended use. There are five types described as Offshore Life Jackets, Near-Shore Buoyant Vests, Flotation Aids, Throwable Devices and Special Use flotation aids.
Not only does the jacket need to be serviceable, but it’s extremely important to wear the right U.S. Coast Guard approved jacket for the job. The life jacket label states the impact speed rating. You don’t want to be wearing a jacket that’s rated for canoeing when you’re water skiing; it hasn’t been tested to stay on the user when impacting the water at high speed. That can be tragic.
Life jackets are meant to keep your head above water and be visible to rescuers. For example, offshore jackets are large, can lift in excess of 22 pounds and are designed to roll an unconscious person face-up. While near- and in-shore life jackets are designed for calmer waters and are not capable of rolling the wearer face-up.
We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing the right life jacket at all times. Make sure you check each jacket’s buckles, straps and seams before every day on the water so you can live to tell about it.
Life Jacket Types
Off-Shore Life Jackets
Best for open ocean, rough seas or remote water, where rescue may be slow coming.
Near-Shore Buoyant Vests
For general boating activities. Good for calm inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue.
For general boating or the specialized activity such as water skiing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and others.
Designed to be thrown to a person overboard or to supplement the buoyancy of a person overboard. It is not to be worn.
Only for special uses or conditions such as canoe/kayak vest, boardsailing vest, deck suit, etc.
Just boating for the weekend with the family? BoatUS has a Life Jacket Loaner Program for kids so parents can get the right life jacket for the day or weekend. To find a loaner site check out their convenient locator map.
You can find several resources on proper fit and care from the Wear It campaign, a program of the National Safe Boating Council.
Boating is serious fun. We’ve provided a variety of advocate tools and outreach methods, choose what works best for you and your community.
- Visit spread the word for easy outreach through personal social media outlets and boating forums.
- Provide year-round education on all boating safety topics – download pamphlets, flyers, banners, and posters. Great event materials. Search by topic in the resource section.
- Download our marketing playbook, an advocates dream resource for creating change. Find it under the Boat Live 365 topic in our resource section.
- Don’t know where to start? Contact us. We’re happy to help.
*U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics
Visit our resource library for downloads, event materials, tips and ideas on how to create a safe boating culture 365 days a year.
Find your state’s life jacket requirements at BoatUS.
Take the life jacket pledge and share it with your friends and family!
Learn what the Wear It safe boating campaign has to offer and download this free resource kit.