Life jackets – just wear them!

Keeping safe this summer with life jacket safety.

Did you know there are hundreds of thousands of lakes, ponds, and rivers in the United States? Just imagine how many recreational activities take place on those waterways throughout the summer months! There are so many fun things to do on the water from swimming to boating to kayaking to skiing and so much more! Just remember that when you and your family are out enjoying the water, you’re also being safe by wearing a life jacket.

Whether you call it a life jacket, life vest or a personal flotation device (PFD), it’s important that you put it on and keep it on. According to the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association, it’s suggested that when you wear a life jacket, all straps, zippers and ties are fastened. Also, they suggest any loose strap ends be tucked in to avoid getting hung up. Their comprehensive brochure on life jackets covers the following information:

  • Choosing the right life jacket – types, benefits, considerations, etc.
  • How many life jackets you need on boats.
  • Caring for your life jacket.
  • Checking and trying your life jacket.
  • Maintaining inflatable life jackets.

Life jackets certainly help keep our families safe on the waterways, but don’t forget there are several additional things you can do to stay safe while enjoying the water this summer. Safe Kids Worldwide provides the following suggestions.

  • Always have your children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Make sure the life jacket fits snuggly. Have the child make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
  • A large portion of boating accidents each year involve alcohol consumption by boat operators and passengers. To keep you and your loved ones safe, it is strongly recommended not to drink alcoholic beverages while boating.
  • Infants and young kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia, so if you are taking a baby on a boat, take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm. If your children seem cold or are shivering, wrap them tightly in a dry blanket or towel.
  • We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool; they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

For more information from Michigan State University Extension about keeping our families safe in the water, see:

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