It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, or how strong of a swimmer you might be, they are called accidents for a reason. 85% of fatal canoeing accidents and 48% of kayaking fatalities involved people who were not wearing their life jacket. Don’t just have it on your boat, kayak or paddle board…wear it. It just might save your life.
Life Jacket Laws
In the state of Nevada, you must have at least one USCG-approved wearable life jacket for each person on board, including paddleboards. Passengers under 13 years of age and under are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on board any boat while the boat is underway, unless they are in an enclosed area.
The Right Life Jacket for You
Life jackets come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes and materials. Some are made to be more rugged and last longer while others are made to protect you from cold water.
No matter which life jacket you choose, be sure to get the one that is right for you. Select a PFD based on your planned activities, and the water conditions you expect to encounter.
United States Coast Guard (USCG) approval means that the PFD has passed rigorous testing. So, always look for the USCG approval number on any life jacket you buy, and be sure to read the manufacturer’s label.
Testing Your Life Jacket
Inherently Buoyant Life Jackets
- Put your life jacket on. It should fit properly with all zippers, straps, ties and snaps correctly secured.
- Ease yourself into the water or walk into water up to your neck.
- Lift your legs and tilt your head back, in a relaxed floating position. Your mouth should be out of the water and you should float comfortably without any physical effort.
If the life jacket rides up, try securing it tighter to your body. If it still rides up, you may need a different style. You should be comfortable and able to swim without significant restriction. You should have someone else to act as a lifeguard or assistant if you are uncomfortable with being in the water or are trying this activity for the first time.
Inflatable Life Jacket
- If you do not wish to test the CO2 inflation system, remove the CO2 cylinder (and if the PFD has an automatic feature, remove the water-sensing element).
- Put your life jacket on and fully inflate it.
- Test it like an inherently buoyant life jacket.
Because of the design, ride-up is generally not an issue with inflatable life jackets. The amount of buoyancy provided with inflatable lifejackets will probably require the user to swim using some form of side or backstroke, as it will be difficult to swim on your stomach when the PFD is properly secured.