How to Choose Children's Lifejackets

How to Choose Children's Lifejackets
When engaging in any kind of outdoor water activities, it is important to plan for safety, especially if children are involved. Outfitting your child with a properly fitting child-size life jacket can help give you peace of mind and may even save your youngster's life. The United States Coast Guard (USGC) Boating Safety Division recommends that you check labeling to make sure the life jacket you purchase for your child is USCG approved, which means that it meets the federal government agency's safety standards for children traveling in vessels.

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Scale
  • Scale
Step 1
Weigh your child on an accurate scale to determine his weight before shopping for a life jacket. Make a note of his weight so you can refer to it if needed.
Step 2
Look for a USGC-approved life jacket that is labeled for your child's weight range. For example, infant PFDs are labeled between 8 and 30 lbs., children's are labeled between 30 and 50 lbs. and youth jackets are labeled between 50 and 90 lbs. Age does not matter, weight does.
Step 3
Inspect the jacket to see if it has a padded collar to help keep your child's head out of the water, a safety strap with buckles that goes between your child's legs to prevent it from coming off, and a handle or strap to assist in pulling your child from the water if necessary.
Step 4
Ensure that the life jacket is buoyant and does not require self-inflating. Self-inflating jackets are reserved for people 16 years of age and older, according to the United States Coast Guard.
Step 5
Put the life jacket on your child to check for a proper fit. Loosen all the straps and zip it up, if there is a zipper. Start at the waist and fasten the straps securely, then tighten any shoulder straps.
Step 6
Once you have the jacket securely fastened, pick up your child by the shoulders of the PFD. If your child's chin and ears slip through the top of the jacket, either you don't have it securely fastened or it's too big. Make sure you have the jacket fastened correctly and lift your child up by the shoulders of the jacket once again. If his chin and ears slip through the top of the jacket, he needs a smaller size.

Tips & Warnings

 
A child wearing an adult-sized life jacket is not safe. The life jacket must fit properly and be secure to be of benefit. If your child's life jacket slips up over her chin while floating in the water, it's too large.
 
A child wearing an adult-sized life jacket is not safe. The life jacket must fit properly and be secure to be of benefit.
 
If your child's life jacket slips up over her chin while floating in the water, it's too large.

Article Written By Cynthia Measom

Cynthia Measom wears many hats. She's a writer and the owner and accountant of a nanny placement agency she founded in 2007. Measom received her B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. She is currently pursuing a B.S. in business administration with a concentration in human resources.

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