Lifejackets: What you Need to Know
● By Digital Media Director
Life jackets are an important aspect of summer living. Before the season is in full swing check out these tips and frequently asked questions. Newborns to small children can benefit from a properly researched product.
Search for the Standards:
The US Coast Guard sets the standard on PFD (Personal Flotation Device) safety and has to test and certify any life jacket that is going to be sold as a life saving device to the public anywhere in the USA. If the life jacket is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is required to be marketed and sold with a "Think Safe" booklet attached to the PFD. It will have a Coast Guard Seal on the bottom center of the front cover.
Life Jackets and Newborns:
PFD/Life Jackets are made down to newborn sizes, usually from 0 - 30 pounds. If an infant is going in the water to swim, they most certainly should be wearing a lifesaving device. Please note that all life jackets fit differently and infants are not all the same fit. It is always better to test fit with a professional before using any life jacket with an infant in the water.
No general fitting requirements, but a properly-fitted life jacket should be tight but comfortable with no gaps between the user's shoulders or sides. The vest should fit snug and close to the skin all the way around. To check the fit of a vest, put it on and tighten down the straps or zipper. Then, make sure when pulling up on the vest from the bottom that it does not slide up easily under or over the chin.
PFD's typically do not have an expiration date, however, every time before using you should inspect for damage. If the jacket has a foam core, make sure it has not been crushed in storage or during the previous use, as this can affect buoyancy in the water. Neoprene life vests usually carry a higher price tag but typically fit more comfortably, retain less water, and tend to hold up longer over time.
The best way to store a life vest would be to make sure it is fully dry then place it on a hanger or shelf in a dry area with low moisture. If put away wet they can start to grow mold, or deteriorate.