Choosing The Best Life Jacket

How to Pick the Best Life Jackets

In this session, you’ll learn that all life jackets are not created equal, and what types are most suitable for which on-the-water activities. [00:00:20]

You’ll learn about common misconceptions regarding proper use of life jackets.

And, you’ll learn valuable tips for ensuring you’ve chosen the best life jacket.

What problems are you trying to avoid?

Boaters enjoy the feel of sun and spray and the sense of freedom of being on the water. It’s tempting to remove your life jacket on nice days because you believe there will be plenty of time to put your life jacket back on.

But modern life jackets are available in a wide variety of shapes, designs, and sizes. Many are thin and flexible. Other are auto-inflatable and compact until they hit water, when they automatically fill with wait.

There’s no longer any excuse not to wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.

A common misperception is that life jackets are only needed in case of unconsciousness or incapacitation. They are needed before such crises which come too late to put on a life jacket. Problems to avoid go beyond not having life jackets readily accessible for use when needed, including designs that don’t keep their wearer’s head above water or help him or her remain in a position that permits proper breathing. [00:01:28]

Choosing the wrong life jacket for the activity. Life jackets have different performance parameters and giving up performance for comfort should be a willful act rather than not knowing the difference.

How do we do it right?

Be aware of different types of life jackets for different on the water activities. Off shore life jackets are best for open ocean, rough seas or remote waters, where rescue may be slow in coming.

Near shore buoyant vests are suitable for general boating activities and calm, inland waters where there’s a good chance for fast rescue. There are also flotation aids for specialized activities as marked on the device, such as water skiing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, or kayaking.

These are also suitable for calm, inland waters, where there is a good chance for a fast rescue.

No matter what type of life jacket you consider, be sure that it is approved by the United States Coast Guard.

Wearing a life jacket from leaving the point of disembarkation for the entire time aboard a vessel is the best way to be safe on the water.

At the least, a life jacket must be readily available for proper use at the time of an incident.

A good recommendation is first to try on the life jacket being considered to ensure that it fits comfortably and can be kept snug, and to test it in shallow water to see how it handles. Its buoyancy in the water should be checked by relaxing and letting one’s head tilt back, making sure it keeps his or her chin above water and permits breathing easily. Any special designed performance features should be tested. It is the combination of these characteristics that define the life saving potential of a life jacket. If it fails to do any one of these essential tasks, it can’t save the wearer’s life.

Remember, life jackets may not act the same in swift or rough water as in calm water. Clothes being worn and items in pockets may also change the way they work.

Obviously the best life jacket is the one that saves it’s wearer’s life every time it’s needed.

Above all, when it comes to selecting the best life jacket, choose one you’ll wear.