We continue our Lake Safe series with a look at lifejacket safety. Ensure the safety of you and your loved ones by wearing proper-fitting and quality lifejackets. The U.S. Coast Guard brings plenty of tips through their “Wear It” campaign to answer any questions you may have about lifejacket safety.

Things to know about lifejackets:

  • Certain lifejackets are designed to keep your head above water and help you remain in a position which permits proper breathing.
  • To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and over must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well.
  • All states have regulations regarding life jacket wear by children.
  • Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. Special life jackets are available. To work correctly, a life jacket must be worn, fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.
  • Life jackets should be tested for wear and buoyancy at least once each year. Waterlogged, faded, or leaky jackets should be discarded.
  • Life jackets must be properly stowed.
  • A life jacket especially a snug-fitting flotation coat or deck-suit style can help you survive in cold water.

Lifejackets must be

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved,
  • In good and serviceable condition, and
  • The appropriate size for the intended user.
  • Worn by children under 8 years old. in Alabama
  • Worn by anyone on a personal watercraft or being towed on skis/tube in Alabama
  • Worn by anyone within 800 feet below a hydroelectric dam or navigational lock or dam in Alabama


  • Wearable lifejackets must be readily accessible.
  • You must be able to put them on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.).
  • They should not be stowed in plastic bags, in locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them.
  • The best lifejacket is the one you will wear.
  • Though not required, a lifejacket should be worn at all times when the vessel is underway. A wearable lifejacket can save your life, but only if you wear it.
  • Throwable devices must be immediately available for use.

How do you choose the right lifejacket? Click here.

For more information check out the resources from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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