Most boaters know they’re required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jacket on board for every person on their boat. Boating safety advocates recommend that all boaters and passengers not only have a life jacket, but wear it at all times while boating.

Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket. Drowning is the reported cause of death in three-fourths of all boating fatalities – and 85 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket in 2015.

The good news is that today’s life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. Life jackets that use inflatable technologies are cool and comfortable. They may resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack. Many inflate automatically when immersed in water. There are life jacket styles available for almost any boating activity.

  • Cruising in an open motorboat: Comfort is key – choose a life jacket you’ll want to wear. For ages 16 and older, inflatable life jackets are a great option.
  • Fishing: Vest-style life jackets come with features such as pockets and clips to replace the fishing vest and keep the angler safe.
  • Personal watercraft and water sports: Inherently buoyant lighter-weight life jackets are rugged, with multiple buckles and clasps to keep them secure after impact with the water.
  • Hunting and cold weather: Full coats and suits are available in camouflage colors for waterfowl hunting and for those who boat when air and water temperatures are cool.
  • Paddling: Special life jackets are designed with large openings for arms to allow ease of movement.
  • Children: Virtually all styles available are sized especially for children – some with cartoon characters, straps for pulling children from the water and high-visibility schemes.
  • Pets: Life jackets are even available for our four-legged friends. It’s helpful to purchase one with a handle on top to easily pull your pet out of the water, if needed.

No matter what the activity or style chosen, the most important thing is this: Remember to be responsible and always wear your life jacket while boating.


Life jackets are designed for a boater’s recreational water activity. A life jacket may be inherently buoyant – using foam or other buoyant materials to stay afloat – or inflatable – providing buoyancy when inflated by relying on CO2 cylinders.

Be sure each life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and appropriate for the water activity by checking the label printed on the inside of the life jacket.


You don’t want your life jacket too large or too small. A snug fit is a proper fit. Remember, life jackets for adults do not work for children.

  1. Make sure the life jacket is properly fastened.
  2. All straps, buckles or zippers are secure.
  3. Hold your arms straight up over your head.
  4. Ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up.


Refer to OWNER’S MANUAL for specific maintenance requirements.

All Life Jacket Care

  • Use properly
  • No rips, waterlogging or mildew
  • Dry after use
  • Hand wash in mild detergent
  • Store in a dry place when not boating

Inflatable Life Jacket Care

  • Test: Orally inflate & holds air for 16 hours
  • Inspect inflation mechanism (not discharged, no corrosion, and properly installed)
  • If it holds air, repack and use