A safety life vest (or personal flotation device) is the most important piece of equipment on your boat, and the most important consideration should be size. More than two-thirds of boating fatalities are drowning incidents, and 90% of drowning people are not wearing safety life vests. So buy a safety life vest you will wear, it can save your life.
There are several types of traditional foam flotation devices as well as newer inflatable safety life vests. Each is designed for different boating activities and water conditions, and each has its own maximum buoyancy, performance levels and limitations. You should choose your safety life vest based on your boating activity and conditions. Safety vest for swimming must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to meet shipping requirements.
Everyone on a recreational boat must have a proper safety life vest. safety life vests must be Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition and sized for the intended user. Obviously, they are most effective when worn. Children under the age of 13 must wear an appropriate Coast Guard-approved PFD on a vessel underway unless they are below the deck or in an enclosed cabin. In the geographic area of any state that has established requirements for children's PFD wearing, that state's requirements will apply. Our child safety life vest loan program can help you get the right safety life vest for the day or weekend.
Each state may have additional dress requirements, such as wakeboarding, personal watercraft operations, whitewater paddling activities, and certain cool-weather months. Additionally, boats 16 feet or more in length (except canoes and kayaks) must have a throwable flotation device. See specific state requirements for an inflatable vest for swimming.
Everyone on board must have at least one inflatable life vest; safety life vests must be the right size for everyone on board; children under a certain age must wear safety life vests; participants in certain water sports must wear safety life vests; safety life vests must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard Team approval to meet the requirements; these safety life vests must be easily accessible and not placed in an inaccessible location or in their original packaging; any boat 16 feet and over (except canoes and kayaks) must carry a throwable PFD equipment must be immediately available, such as in the cockpit or near the helm; inflatable safety life vests must have unused gas cylinders; inflatable safety life vests are approved for use on recreational boats by persons at least 16 years of age.