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Wear IT Maryland - 2012

Lifejackets - Special People / Special Needs     Boat Smart, Wear It - Safe     Lifejacket / PFD Tips & Information -

Wear Your Lifejacket, We Do!

Family Wearing Lifejackets Young adults in a row boat wearing Lifejackets Group of Young Adults Going Teen girls wearing It Won't Work If You Don't -  Wear IT!

Federal Law requires that all watercraft carry a minimum of one approved Type I, II, III, or V Lifejacket in good serviceable condition for every person on board or being towed.  Vessels over 16 feet must carry at least one Type IV Throwable Device.

Lifejackets are #1 on USCG Safety Equipment List.   The simple act of wearing a Lifejacket could have saved 4 out of 5 lives lost in boating accidents.  So set a good example by wearing a Lifejacket, encouraging others to wear Lifejackets when underway & getting children into habit of wearing Lifejackets.  This simple practice could save your life or the life of a loved one!

When underway, store any extra Lifejackets in cockpit area so they can float free if boat should unexpectedly capsize or sink.

U.S. Coast Guard approved Type II, III & V special purpose Inflatable Lifejackets are available from many manufacturers.  They are comfortable, practical, affordable and  make boating in hot/humid weather more enjoyable, but they require some TLC & knowledge of how they work to ensure they are in good operating condition & will effectively serve their intended purpose.

Maryland Law requires that:

Children under 4 years of age must wear a Lifejacket with:

  1. STRAP that is secured between the legs to fasten together the front & back of the Lifejacket
  2. INFLATABLE HEADREST or HIGH COLLAR to keep child's head above water
  3. WEB HANDLE to ensure readily accessibility of the child from a vessel or dock

Children under 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Lifejacket while underway on a recreational vessel under 21 ft. unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

See: "Boating in Maryland" for additional information & resources.

The vessel owner / operator are legally responsible for the safety & wellbeing of crew & passengers, so be sure to regularly review vessel safety gear requirements, condition & needs plus make it a habit to use a pre-underway checklist before every outting.

When was the last time you had a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) or did an indepth review of your safety related equipment?  Some items to consider include:

  1. Are Inflatable Lifejacket being appropriately serviced & maintained?
  2. Has a Lifejacket been crushed (used as a fender or cushion) or ripped making it ineffective?
  3. Is the watercraft being used differently or have on-the-water activities changed?
  4. Has the family grown in number and/or physical size?
  5. Does an individual with special needs come along?
  6. Does a family dog or cat come along?
  7. Are family members inviting relatives or friends to come along?
  8. Has a Lifejacket been lost, thrown away or damaged by mildew or solvents?
  9. Are Lifejackets stored in a place that may not be easily accessible during an emergency?

The USCG Seal of Approval allow you to focus efforts on finding devices that:

  • will be worn (individual views as cool or likes the look)
  • are comfortable & fit properly (check and select proper size)
  • match type of activity & expected operating conditions (location/weather)
  • will keep individual afloat & protected until help can arrive, if needed!

NEVER Make Any Kind of Alteration to a Lifejacket!

Boat Smart, Wear It - Safe Boating Principles Teen girl wearing a Type V PFD Boat Smart, Wear It - Safe

Kids Looking Cool in Lifejackets

New MD PFD Requirements For Children

Lifejackets - Special People / Special Needs

Kids wearing Lifejackets

Types of Lifejacket's Currently Approved by US Coast Guard

Type I - Off Shore PFD

TYPE II - Near Shore PFD TYPE II - Near Shore Inflatable Lifejacket

Type III - Flotation AidTYPE III - Flotation Aid Inflatable Lifejacket

Type IV - Throwable Device

Type I
Off Shore LifeJacket

Type II
Near Shore Buoyancy Vest

Type III
Flotation Aid

Type IV
Throwable Device

Type V - Float CoatType V - Float Collar & Belt

Survival Suite

Child PFD

Information On Boating With Pets

Type V
Float Coat / Inflatable Suspenders

Type V
 Survival Suite

Type V
Child / Infant

Flotation Aids

Select Type of Lifejacket based on activities, operating environment & boating location:

  • Type I -  best for boating in severe conditions where rescue may be delayed
  • Type II  -  good for calm, inland water where there is a good chance of fast rescue. sizes may have high collars to help keep a child’s face out of the water.
  • Type III  -  good for calm water where a good chance of fast rescue exists (more comfortable and offers better freedom of movement then Type II).  Comes in a variety of styles and sizes.
  • Type IV  -  throwable device (should not be used by children as swim aid).
  • Type V  -  special-1 purpose devices that come in a wide range of designs and styles such as inflatable suspenders, float coats, survival suites, fishing vests, work vests, etc.

For instance:

  • For offshore, buy Type I's (only lifejacket that will turn unconscious people face up in rough water).
  • If weather conditions require wearing a jacket, consider using a Type V "Float Coat."
  • Into sailboating, try Type III or V Inflatable Suspenders.
  • A Type III (High Impact) Flotation Aid is best for water-skiing, PWC's or just having fun in the water.
  • If you are working or fishing, a Work or Fishing Vests is probably best

U.S. Coast Guard Seal of Approval Minimum Buoyancies Requirements

Type I   -  22 lbs.
Type II   -  15.5 lbs.
Type III   -  15.5 lbs.
Type IV - Ring Buoy   -  16.5 lbs.
Type IV - Boat Cushion   -  18 lbs.
Type V - Hybrid Inflatable   -  7.5 to 22 lbs.
Type V - Special Use Device   -  15.5 to 22 lbs.

Semper Paratus (Always Ready) Safety Tips

  • Carry enough Lifejackets for maximum number of persons vessel can safely carry
  • Select an assortment of Lifejacket types, sizes and styles that match on-the-water activities, even if it means having extra devices onboard
  • Check before every outing that all safety gear is in good serviceable condition, fully functional and a good match for planned activities
  • If you encounter deteriorating weather conditions or problems, make sure everyone is wearing a proper Lifejacket and any spares are kept near helm until conditions improve or help arrives

Wear It!  -  We Do (USCG / USCG Auxiliary)! Boat Smart, Wear It - Safe Boating Principles Parent Making Sure Child's Lifejacket Fits Properly

Wear It! - NSBC/MDDNR 2012Drowning is often silent, takes as little as 5 minutes and frequently occurs with an adult nearby!  Following these lifejacket use guidelines will help reduce the chance of an accidental drowning:

  1. Children birth to 5:  on beaches, docks, boats and water toys
  2. Children 6 to 12:   on docks, river banks, PWC's, water skis / boards, boats, inner tubes or other water toys
  3. Teens and young adults:   on PWC's, water skis, water boards, boats, inner tubes and other water toys

Infants & young children Lifejacket's (See Maryland Law) should:

  1. Have a Coast Guard seal of approval on the label
  2. Fit properly.  Be sure to check weight and size on label & then have them try it on.  Pick up small children by Lifejacket shoulders.  If it is proper size, child’s chin and ears should not slip through the vest. Using an appropriate Lifejacket that fits
  3. Have a web handle above their head to assist with retrieving them out of the water
  4. Have strap that goes between legs to prevent vest from accidentally coming off
  5. Keep them face-up when in the water and provide head support
  6. Comfort and appearance.  This is especially important for teens, who are less likely to tolerate an uncomfortable or clunky looking Lifejacket.

If you regularly go out on the water, purchase appropriate Lifejackets and get your children into the habit of wearing them!  Their life could depend on it.

Make sure you:

  1. Never use toys like plastic rings or water wings in place of a Lifejacket.
  2. Never make any type of alterations or modifications to a Lifejacket. Showing A Child How To Put On A Lifejacket
  3. Have children practice wearing their Lifejacket in shallow water so they become comfortable with it.  This will help prevent panic and thrashing about in a real emergency which could put their life in danger.

If a proper size or type of Lifejacket is not available, get one through the free lifejacket loaner program

Lifejacket, Life-vest, PFD or Floatation Aid
no matter what you call it, the most important fact to remember is
"It Won't Work If You Don't Wear it!"

Wear It! - NSBC 2012Teen girls wearing LifejacketsGirls Wearing Type It Won't Work If You Don't Wear IT!Family on PWC wearing their LifejacketsBoy's Fishing wearing LifejacketsBoat Smart - Wear Your

Semper Paratus (Always Ready) Safety Tips

  • Lifejackets DO NOT take the place of or reduce the need for proper adult supervision.
  • A fun and worthwhile activity is have everyone tryout their Lifejacket in shallow water.  This will help them become familiar with how it feels and works.
  • Set a good example by wearing a Lifejacket and reminding others around you to wear them as well!
  • Buy Lifejackets as gifts for friends and loved ones:
    1. Give a Type V infant Lifejacket as a baby shower gift to families who enjoy boating!
    2. Give a Type V Inflatable Lifejacket designed for the type of activities boating enthusiasts in your life enjoy most.  It makes a wonderful and loving gift, especially if it means they will WEAR IT!

Let's Talk Lifejackets includes a virtual fashion show of available Lifejackets and can help identify attractive and practical devices that are comfortable to wear

Type II & III inflatable as well as Type V special purpose Lifejackets are available from manufacturers such as Stearns, Inc, Mustang Survival & SoSpenders

Start Your Child When Young Wearing A Lifejacket!   Type V Infantant Lafejacket (PFD)   Choosing and Using Lifejackets   Type V Special Use PFD / Lifejacket   Fly Fishing with Type V PFD

Lifejackets Won't Work If You Don't Wear Them, So Always
Boat Smart From The Start
Your life or the life of someone you love may depend on it!

Fishing Vest and PFD all in one Type V Special Use PFD / Lifejacket

Lifejackets are Survival quipment - Treat Them With Respect!

Capsized Boat With Men In The Water

For a Lifejacket to work and do its job, it must remain in good serviceable condition which can be accomplished by:

  1. Thoroughly air-drying Lifejackets before stowing or putting them away
  2. Never crushing or placing heavy weight on them such as using a Lifejacket as a fender or standing/sitting on it
  3. Avoiding contact with oil, grease, or other solvents which can cause Lifejacket materials to deteriorate and lose buoyancy
  4. Avoiding contact with sharp objects and performing regular checks and maintenance when your Lifejacket is an Inflatable

Inspect Lifejackets monthly for signs of mildew, rot, rust, tears, leaks, insecure or damaged straps and hardware, hardened or crushed stuffing, missing safety items added to the device, or other characteristics important to its proper operation.  Immediately correct any problems you find (throwaway and replace Lifejacket's or replace missing safety items). Type V Flotation PFD

Wearing appropriate cold weather protective gear can help reduce the risk of hypothermia (a major water related killer)!

US Coast Guard Boating Safety Things You Should Know About Lifejackets" covers:

  1. Why Should I Wear My Lifejacket?
  2. New Lifejackets Are Attractive and Easy To Wear.
  3. Things You Should Know!
  4. How Do Lifejackets Save Lives?

BoatUS Foundation Lifejacket Technical Guide

Setting Straight Some Common Misconceptions:

  1. The "USCG-Approved" label on a Lifejacket DOES NOT guarantee it will save your life, it only indicates that when the Lifejacket was made it met minimum USCG specified design, construction and testing standards.
  2. Boat Smart, Wear It - Safe Boating Principles Being a good swimmer DOES NOT guarantees you will be safe around water and able to save your life if something unexpected happens.  What if you are injured?  What if you encounter a rip current?  What if you are stuck in the water for an extended period of time?
  3. Use of Type III Flotation Aids ARE NOT only for use with activities like water-skiing, kayaking, riding a PWC, or where retrieval from the water is immediately available.  Type III and V devices can be worn under a wide range of situations and wearing them can make the difference between life and death.  An average adult only requires 7 to 12 pounds of additional buoyancy to remain afloat. 
  4. A Type II, Near-Shore Devices, DOES NOT provide sufficient protection to save your life when boating on Inland Waters under all conditions.  It is only effective in keeping your head above water in calm seas and protected conditions.
  5. Type IV Throwable Devices ARE NOT a substitute for Lifejackets.  They are used to provide temporary assistance to a person who has fallen overboard or to help mark the spot where the incident occurred.

Lifejackets Float, You Don't - Wear It, We Do!

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