- Lifesaving & Fire Safety

5/3/2019: Stay “face up” – Try on your lifejacket in a controlled water environment to ensure proper fit

Submitted by the Office of Design & Engineering Standards and the Office of Boating Safety

Last boating season, the Coast Guard received an increased number of reports of incidents from recreational boaters where infant lifejackets did not perform as expected in the water. These incidents involved multiple models and manufacturers. Investigations were completed, and there were no findings of non-conformance or manufacturing defects. It was confirmed that the products met Coast Guard requirements and the applicable industry standards.

The findings of these investigations did highlight the importance of checking the fit and performance of lifejackets on users, especially on infants and children, while floating in water. The Coast Guard recommends everyone try on their lifejacket in a controlled water environment to ensure proper fit and performance on their body. All Coast Guard approved lifejackets meet industry standards and Coast Guard requirements for construction, performance, and manufacturing. However, the only way to ensure proper fit and performance on an individual is to try it on in the water.

Select a lifejacket that is appropriate for your size, environment, and activity. Read the label. A lifejacket should fit snugly. When in the water, if the user cannot maintain a relaxed “face-up” floating position after getting used to wearing the lifejacket, try another style until one is found that fits and performs properly.

We continue to urge and encourage boaters to try on their lifejackets, both when purchasing a new lifejacket and at the beginning of their boating season.

For more information on lifejackets and lifejacket selection, visit uscgboating.org

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.