Boaters & Paddlers

Child/Infant Life Jackets

Although state laws may vary, most states require children under thirteen years of age to wear a life jacket while the vessel is underway.

It is crucial that a child’s life jacket fit properly at the time it is needed. Purchase a life jacket that fits the child properly at the time of purchase. DO NOT purchase a larger-sized life jacket for “growing room.” Children can easily slip out of a life jacket that is the wrong size or not properly adjusted when in the water. Always ensure a child’s life jacket is fitted correctly and consider using “crotch straps” for toddlers and small children.

A child’s life jacket must fit snugly. Check the fit by picking the child up by the shoulder straps of the lifejacket. If the lifejacket fits, the child’s chin, and ears will not slip through.

A child may panic when they first fall into the water. While a lifejacket will keep a child afloat, it may not keep a struggling child face-up. Violent movements can counteract a lifejacket’s performance; therefore, teaching children how to wear a lifejacket and relax in the water is essential. In addition, performing an in-water test of the child’s life jacket in a controlled environment will help ensure the life jacket is functioning correctly and will acclimate the child to wearing the life jacket.