Remember the following important laws for life jackets.
- Life jackets must be readily accessible. Better yet, each person on your boat or paddleboard should wear a life jacket at all times. It’s easier to put on a life jacket at your leisure, rather than waiting until you suddenly find yourself dumped in the water. In a kayak, never leave your life jacket in a storage compartment. If you capsize, retrieving it can be difficult.
- Life jackets must be the proper size. Read the label to make sure each life jacket is the right size based on the wearer’s weight and chest size. To check the fit on a child, pick the child up by the shoulders of the life jacket. The child’s chin and ears should not slip through the jacket.
Life jackets must be in good and serviceable condition.
- Regularly test your life jacket by wearing it in shallow water or a swimming pool to see if you float well. Frequently check for rips, tears, or damage to straps or zippers. Discard and replace any life jacket that has a problem.
- For inflatable life jackets:
- Check the inflator before each outing. Make sure the CO2 cylinder has not been used, has no leaks, and is screwed in tightly.
- On a regular basis, check the life jacket itself for leaks. Blow the life jacket up manually, and make sure it is still inflated several hours later.
- Immediately replace spent CO2 cartridges with new ones.
- Maintain the life jacket according to the owner’s manual.