Wear Life Jackets

Be safer in and around water by wearing a properly fitted life jacket.

The Basics

  • Wearing a properly fitted life jacket or personal flotation device (pfd) can reduce the risk of drowning. This is applicable to swimmers, boaters, and users of kayaks, jet skis, or other personal watercraft.
  • Weak or non-swimmers should wear a life jacket when they are in or near water (pool, lake, river, ocean, etc.).
  • Do not use foam or air-filled toys, (e.g. floaties, water wings, inner tubes, noodles), in place of a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
  • Wear a life jacket every time you are in or around natural bodies of water (open water) such as lakes, rivers, or oceans.
  • VIDEO: How to Fit a Life Jacket on a Child (BoatUS Foundation)
  • VIDEO: Wear it Right: Choosing & Fitting a Life Jacket (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District)
  • BROCHURE: How to Choose the Right Life Jacket (U.S. Coast Guard)
  • BROCHURE: Types and Styles of Life Jackets (TPWD)
  • MAP: Life Jacket Loaner Station Map (Central Texas including Travis, Williamson, and Llano County)

Action Items

  • Select a U.S. Coast Guard approved, and properly fitted life jacket appropriate for the type of water activity and water conditions.
  • Practice wearing the life jacket while in the water (while supervised).
  • Consider donating a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets to a life jacket loaner board in your area.
  • Read all of the Layers of Protection. Next layer: BARRIERS AROUND WATER.
  • Take and Share the Colin’s Hope Water Safety Quiz.
  • Learn more about Boat Safety for Kids.

Dive Deeper

How to choose a Life Jacket. The information below is provided merely as a guide.

  • Look for the U.S. Coast Guard seal of approval. Laws regulating the use of life jackets while boating vary. View the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators for the rules of your state, Reference Guide to State Boating Laws.
  • Select the appropriate life jacket for the water activity and the water conditions. Of the five types of life jackets designated by the U.S. Coast Guard, only Types I-III have been approved for use by children.
  • Jackets may be naturally buoyant, inflatable, or made of buoyant material with an inflatable chamber (hybrid).
  • Consider maintenance, durability, type of water activity, and the age of the wearer when choosing a style.
  • All life jackets must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved, the appropriate weight range for the wearer, correctly maintained, and in good condition. Life jackets designed for adults should not be worn by children.
  • Proper fit should not be ignored. A life jacket cannot protect the wearer adequately if it fits improperly.
  • When you have chosen a life jacket, wear it and practice swimming in it in calm water.
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