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  • Water Safety Takes 2nd Place to Memorial Day Remembrance

    Proper life jacket fit is paramount to water safety for children, and it's the law in all 50 states. With few exceptions, all children under 13 must wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices while aboard a moving boat. In states that have their own child PFD-wear requirements, the state's requirement applies.

    SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (May 22, 2019) - More than 37 million Americans are expected to travel by vehicle over the weekend extended by the Memorial Day holiday (source: AAA), with many of them having boating and fishing in mind.

    For most, it will be the kick-off outing for what hopefully will be several more to come during a summer of fun on the water. As the first trip of the year though, proper preparation and some reminders about safety can help ensure the season gets off to a good start.

    "First thoughts should be of the men and women who died while serving in our Armed Forces so we can enjoy things like being outdoors this weekend," said Mary Snyder, Absolute Outdoor vice president of marketing. "Then it's important to 'think safety' if you're headed to the water.

    "At the top of the list is to make sure all life jackets are in good condition and still fit properly, especially in the case of youth. Young bodies change quickly and a good-fitting life jacket is not only essential for safety - it's also the law."

    Life jackets must meet United States Coast Guard (USCG) compliance for each wearer. With few exceptions, all children under 13 must wear a USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) all the time while aboard a boat. In states that have their own child PFD-wear requirements, each state's requirement is to be followed.

    Child life jacket requirements for all 50 states can be found on the Life Jacket Advisor website:

    Life jacket size information can be found on its label, but most important is that the jacket fits properly. (Courtesy Boa tU.S. Foundation)

    Children's life jackets are sized according to a child's weight (not by chest size as they are for adults). As a general rule for PFD designations, "Infant" is for 8 to 30 pounds; "Child" is for 30 to 50 pounds; and "Youth" is for 50 to 90 pounds. However, "fit" is the ultimate criteria.

    Lake patrol officials say a life jacket must fit for it to do its job right, so just having a life jacket on doesn't necessarily mean someone is in compliance with the law.

    They also remind it has to be snug, with all straps and closures fastened, and that's one of the things they check on boaters.

    PFDs for infants and small children should have a padded head support to help keep the head above water, a leg strap to help keep the flotation device from riding up, and a grab handle to assist in retrieving a wearer out of the water.

    Look for a life jacket's size designation on label information located on the inside area of its back.

    "A good fitting life jacket is also more comfortable to wear. Complement the right fit with a stylish design and/or one that looks similar to mom and dad's, and most kids are good for spending the entire day in them.

    "PFD designs and materials have come a long way in form and function, but they still only work when worn. Adults serve as the best example to youngsters by always wearing theirs, too," Snyder added.

    Design engineers at Absolute Outdoor, makers of Onyx and Full Throttle life jackets, say it only takes a few minutes to inspect life jackets, so first check for rips, tears, and holes, and then make sure seams, fabric straps, and hardware are in good condition. Waterlogging, mildew odor, or shrinkage of the flotation foam are signs of performance concerns.

    Lastly, try the life jacket on. If it no longer fits, replace it.

    A quality life jacket can provide several seasons of service with proper care. To extend a PFD's life, let it drip dry thoroughly before putting it away in a dry, cool, dark and well-ventilated place for storage.

    For more information on life jacket selection, care and other FAQs, visit and

    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Slab's Avatar
      Slab -
      Great advise. Everyone, please have a safe Memorial Day.
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      Good read
    1. partsman1's Avatar
      partsman1 -
      Great advice!!!!

      Sent from my iPhone using
    1. SuperDave336's Avatar
      SuperDave336 -
      Very Good Information. Information that I will be using while buying life jackets for my daughters. Thanks
    1. ET Fish's Avatar
      ET Fish -
      Great info.
    1. gravelman6's Avatar
      gravelman6 -
      Good advice for the young ones. Adults leave the beverages on shore. Have a fun and safe holiday weekend.
    1. "G"'s Avatar
      "G" -
      good info
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