Check Your Life Jacket’s Fit, Function & Condition Before Boating this Season

Staff at Coast Guard Headquarters wear life jackets during Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day May 15, 2020.

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims.  Accidents can, and do happen with terrifying speed on the water. There’s rarely time to reach stowed life jackets.

As the boat operator you are responsible for the safety of your passengers.  The U.S. Coast Guard challenges you and your passengers to wear your life jacket all the time while underway.

The importance of ensuing your life jacket has proper fit, function and condition can not be understated.

The Coast Guard recommends everyone try on their life jacket in a controlled water environment to ensure proper fit and performance on their body. All Coast Guard approved life jackets 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 life jacket that is appropriate for your size, environment, and activity. Read the label. A life jacket should fit snugly. When in the water, if the user cannot maintain a relaxed “face-up” floating position after getting used to wearing the life jacket, try another style until one is found that fits and performs properly.

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

For more information on life jackets and life jacket selection, visit

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.

Categories: Safety

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