Does your life jacket fit?

Tips for making sure your life jacket is the right fit for you.

Summer is here and as temperatures rise, it’s likely you’ll seek the water to get cool. Don’t forget that as you get cool in the water, you’ll want to be sure you’re wearing a life jacket, life vest or personal flotation device. With all the colors, shapes and sizes available, it’s often hard to know which is right for you and which is right for your child.

Did you know there’s risk in wearing a life jacket that’s too tight or too big? When life jackets are too small, they’re uncomfortable! In the summertime when it’s hot, no one wants to wear anything that’s tight, binding or uncomfortable, so be sure to choose a life jacket that isn’t too small, pinches or rubs. Likewise, don’t choose a life jacket that’s too big. In the water, life jackets that are too big can shift, ride up or even slide off.

So, how do you know when a life jacket fits correctly? Educational information found within the Safe Boating Campaign Weart It! Always Wear Your Life Jacket suggests you should:

  • Check the manufacturer’s label to ensure the life jacket is a proper fit for your size and weight.
  • Make sure the jacket is properly fastened.
  • Hold your arms straight up over your head.
  • Ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up.
  • Make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the jacket does not ride up over your chin or face.
  • Try the life jacket in shallow water under safe and supervised conditions to be sure you have the best fit.

For more information from Michigan State University Extension about boating and summer safety, see:

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