It’s summer time here in Sacramento, which means it’s time to take a dip in the local rivers and lakes. Thousands of people come from all over the area to go swimming, boating and tubing to escape the heat and have fun, but one factor that most people forget about in their fun is life jackets.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard in 2014, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 84 percent were reported to not be wearing a life jacket. In a way to help decrease these percentages and save lives, it’s important to always wear your life preserver.
Under law in California, every child under the age of 13 on a moving vessel of any length must wear a Coast-Guard approved life jacket. If you’re on board a personal watercraft, otherwise known as a jet ski, or being towed behind a boat, everyone must wear a life jacket regardless of age. So, in order to stay safe, here are some factors to check for when choosing a properly fitting life jacket.
“When you’re picking out a life jacket, regardless if it’s for a child or an adult, they should all fit the same,” says Chris Kinley, Vice President of the Sacramento Drowning Accident Rescue Team, or DART. “If you’re looking at a life jacket for a child, be sure that the jacket has the correct weight on there and is Coast Guard approved.”
All life jackets, regardless of it’s for a child or an adult, must be Coast Guard compliant. They must also be properly zipped or buckled.
If you’re trying on the life jacket for fitting, put on the jacket and raise your arms straight over your head. Ask someone to grasp the top of the arm openings and pull up. If you notice there is excess room above the openings or if the jacket covers above your chin or face, it does not fit properly. Also, if the buckles or straps don't close, the jacket is too small.
It’s also important to know that a child’s life jacket will not fit an adult. The state of California also has several locations if you need to borrow a life jacket.