• Q At what age do kids have to wear life jackets?

    A While states might differ on this, Federal laws call for all children under the age of 13 to wear a life vest while in vessels upon moving water. Exceptions to this rule might only apply when the child is below deck (or in the cabin) or if the vessel is anchored (moored or not underway). Coast Guard regulations stipulate that these live vests must be of an appropriate size and type for the child and the activities in question. There are currently no infant-approved life vests, meaning that toddlers should always be within reach of an adult and supervised constantly.

  • Q Should you wear a life jacket when using a paddleboard?

    A A stand-up paddleboard (SUP) falls in the category of boats in most states, and many of the same guidelines for such vessels apply. For children under the age of 13, wearing a life vest is mandatory at all times. For older people, it is required that you have one with you, even if you aren’t wearing it throughout your excursion.

  • Q How many life jackets must be on a boat?

    A This is determined by the number of people on the boat. You will need to have a life vest available for everyone aboard the vessel, with children under the age of 13 required to have them on at all times. In most states, it is also a requirement that you have a throwable PFD (Personal Floatation Device such as a floating ring) aboard, just in case someone goes overboard while not wearing their life vest.  

  • Q When should a life jacket be discarded and replaced?

    A Life vests don’t necessarily have an expiry date, but the length of time they will be useful and reliable will depend on the amount of use they undergo and how you take care of them. It is, however, considered the norm to replace a life jacket after ten years, no matter how often it has been used or its apparent condition. These are somewhat maintenance-free devices, and so an annual inspection of their condition is recommended, especially since adult-sized vests might go for years without being made use of.

  • Q How should a life jacket fit?

    A The terminology the authorities (Coast Guard) used for this question is ‘comfortably snug.’ This means two things: First, you should be able to fasten it in such a way that it fits snugly across your torso, and if you can’t, then it’s too big for you. Second, you should feel comfortable moving freely after fastening it, and if you can’t, then it’s too small for you. A loose life vest might be pulled up and over your head by water should you happen to fall over, while an exceedingly tight life vest might restrict your ability to maneuver yourself out of the situation. 

  • Q Do you need a life jacket on a kayak?

    A The short answer here is YES. In most states, the law requires everyone under the age of 13 to have a life vest when onboard any recreational vessel. In general terms, the laws require any vessels of lengths extending beyond 16 feet to have life vests available for every passenger on board. These vests must be of a type and quality that the Coast Guard approves.

  • Q How to clean life jackets?

    A  After being out on the water, follow these steps to properly clean a life vest:
    • Take clean water and wet its surface to start with. You can apply a specialized marine cleaner or any mild detergent onto the vest’s surface and then use a soft-bristle brush to scrub its surface.
    • Go on to rinse it with fresh water until all the cleanser is removed, then allow it to dry out before placing it in a cool, dry storage location.
    • In case of a moldy or smelly life vest, brush away any visible spores, replace the cleaning agent with a mild bleach solution, and repeat the described process.

  • Q Do life vests keep you afloat?

    A The purpose of a life vest is to keep you afloat, even when you are unconscious or unable to make any motions to help keep you from sinking. The typical life vest is filled with air, which counteracts your weight and keeps you at surface level. Non-inflatable vests operate on the same principle, as foam vests, for example, are made of materials that hold numerous tiny air pockets within them.
  • Q How to wear a life vest?

    A The specific steps here will vary depending on the type of life vest in question, but the basic procedure is a simple one. The first thing you will do is place the life vest over your head through the neck opening, making sure the front part is at your chest. You will then attach the straps and secure them around your waist to be taught but not too tight. To inflate the vest, you will pull the inflate cord attached to it. Foam life vests will not need any inflation, so it will be enough to put them on correctly and ensure they’re strapped securely.