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What should I know about life jackets?

Even seasoned boaters are encouraged to wear life jackets on the water. Along with ensuring that these life-saving boating accessories are accessible at all times, there are some other important factors you should keep in mind if you want you and your passengers to remain safe. In this case, the U.S. Coast Guard offers the following advice. 

Children should always wear life jackets aboard boats, no matter their swimming ability. In fact, most states have strict regulations in place regarding the wearing of life jackets by children. Most importantly, kids must wear an appropriately-sized jacket based on their weight. An adult jacket will not be able to save a child in a drowning situation. When buying a jacket for your child, look at the label for weight information. Weight restrictions are typically labeled by less than 30 lbs., 30 lbs. to 50 lbs., less than 50 lbs., and so on. 

You should also know the difference between common types of life jackets. Inherently buoyant jackets are usually made from foam. These jackets are designed for people of all ages, including infants. They can be worn or they can be used as a throwable floatation device. There are also inflatable jackets, which many people find more comfortable to wear when boating. 

These jackets are typically only available in adult sizes and are best used for swimmers. Non-swimmers may have a harder time staying afloat in inflatable life jackets, so they're best served by the inherently buoyant versions. Hybrid jackets combine the two options. These can be used for children as well as adults, and swimmers and nonswimmers alike. Regardless of the type you choose, make sure the people aboard your vessel are wearing the appropriate life jacket when necessary. 

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