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These PA tips are good for Michigan as well.

Simple tips to select a Life Jacket for kids

The PA Fish and Boat Commission is encouraging all boaters to check their equipment thoroughly before heading out on the water, with a special emphasis life jackets.

The PFBC estimates that at least 80% of the 114 boating fatalities over the last 10 years would have survived the accident had they been wearing a properly fitting life jacket. That makes life jackets the single most important piece of safety equipment on board any boat. But even the best ones don’t work if they’re not being worn. In that regard, putting on a life jacket is a lot like wearing a seat belt in an automobile. And just like seatbelt and car seat laws for children, there are special regulations for kids and life jackets. In Pennsylvania, all children 12 or younger must to wear a life jacket when underway on a boat that is 20’ or smaller and all canoes and kayaks. Ensuring youngsters are wearing a properly fitting life jacket is also common sense.

With the vast array of sizes, shapes and makes available, selecting the right life jacket for a child can seem like a daunting task. The wide variety of life jackets is a bonus; however, increasing the odds you'll find a proper fit. Consider fit first when selecting a life jacket.

Bear in mind the following guidelines:

At home, be sure to measure the child's chest (underneath the arms.) Many manufacturers include a chest size. Be sure the chest measurement is accommodated when selecting a purchase.

If the child has a fear of the water or does not know how to swim, select a Type II jacket is recommended.

At the store, have the child try on the jacket and make sure it fits snugly. Lift the shoulders of the life jacket to make sure it does not slip over the chin or ears. The life jacket is too big if there is more than 3” between the child's shoulders and the device.

Choose brightly colored life jackets. Children are more likely to wear devices that are attractive to them. And bright colors are also more readily visible on the water.

Crotch straps are an important feature for infants. For the child's protection, be sure the crotch straps are used at all times.

A parent or other adult should assist the child in testing their life jacket in the water. Adjust the life jacket so its optimum performance is achieved. Let the child indicate when the device needs to be tightened or loosened.
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