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How to choose a life jacket for your next boating trip

Karns & Kerrison

One of the best ways to protect everyone on a boating trip is to make sure there is a functional life jacket available for each person aboard. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, for those 2015 boating accident reports that included the cause of death and life jacket usage, 76 percent of the 626 fatalities were caused by drowning. Life jackets were not worn by 85 percent of the people who drowned. The fact that some people wore life jackets and still drowned highlights the need to be sure the ones chosen are capable of keeping wearers afloat.

In addition to statistics, the U.S. Coast Guard also provides several things to look for when buying life jackets. The first is that the life jacket is the right size. A jacket that does not fit right will not be able to keep wearers safe. When checking fit, jackets need to be properly fastened. They should not ride up over the chin or face when arms are extended straight up.

When shopping for life jackets, people should only purchase devices that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. There are several types and styles, but it is typically a good idea to choose children’s jackets that turn wearers face up if they become unconscious. Adult jackets will not always turn the wearer face up, but may keep the user in an upright position with the head out of water. Waterskiing, hunting and fishing are a few of the recreational activities that may require a specific type of jacket.

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