Number of Life Jackets Needed per Boat
The United States Coast Guard says you must have USCG Approved Personal Flotation Devices (life jackets) on your recreational boat. How many and what type life jackets you'll need depends on the number of people on board, the size and type of your boat, and the kind of boating you do. You must have one of any of these wearable life jackets for each person on board: Offshore Life Jacket (Type I); Near-Shore Buoyant Vest (Type II); Flotation Aid (Type III); Special Use Device (Type V). Additionally, if your boat is 16 feet or longer, and is not a canoe or kayak, you must also have at least one Throwable Device (Type IV). For example, if there are four people on your 16-foot boat, you must have at least five life jackets - four wearable life jackets and one throwable life jacket.
Caring for Life Jackets
Follow these points to be sure your life jacket stays in good condition:
Don't alter your life jacket. If yours does not fit, get one that does. Play it safe. An altered life jacket may not save your life. Don't put heavy objects on your life jacket or use it for a kneeling pad for boat fender. life jackets lose buoyancy when crushed. Let your life jacket drip dry thoroughly before putting it away. Always stow it in a well-ventilated place. Don't leave your life jacket on board for long periods when the boat is not in use. Never dry your life jacket on a rediator, heater, or any other direct heat source Practice throwing your Type IV life jacket. Cushions throw best underhand.
Life Jacket Guidelines for Children
Children's Life Jackets are sized according to weight range and chest size. Weigh your child and measure their chest under the arms before you go to pick one out. Be sure it fits snugly. To test it, lift the child up by the shoulders of the life jacket to make sure it will not slip over the chin or ears.
It can be difficult for a child to float in a face up position because of the distribution of the body weight and a child's tendency to struggle or attempt to climb out of the water. If one does not work well, try another style. Straps around the legs are particularly important on children's life jackets, as they keep the device in place. They should be used whenever the life jacket is on. If the child does not swim, a Type II device is recommended to help keep the child face up in the water. Even though a life jacket is designed to keep a child afloat, it does not substitute for supervision. Never leave a child unattended.For more information visit the USCG Life Jacket Information Guide