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Life Jacket
Life Jackets Save Lives

Life jackets save lives! If a boater is wearing a life jacket, their chances of survival from capsizing or a fall overboard will dramatically increase. The same is true for passengers, which is why it’s critical for a boater to make sure everyone on their boat wears a life jacket. Don’t just store a life jacket for a “what-if” situation, always wear a life jacket while boating!

To learn more about a specific state’s life jacket requirement, or the state boating agency for the boating destination, please visit the Federal and State Point-of-Contacts section of BoatBeat.

Best Practices

Read BoatBeat’s General Best Practices, in addition to the following tips, for more recommendation and information.

  • Life Jacket vs. PFD: Note the preferred term is “life jacket,” as identified by Boating Safety Advisory Council’s Resolution 2008-81-03, rather than “personal flotation device.” Use of the preferred term helps with consistency and educational branding when promoting life jacket use to recreational boaters. Both terms are correct but more of the public relate to the term “life jacket.”
  • Wear a Life Jacket: Reiterate the importance of wearing a life jacket. Life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved, readily available, properly fit the intended user, and be in good and serviceable condition.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets: Discuss that these life Jackets meet U.S. Coast Guard carriage requirements and have undergone extensive testing, if applicable. There are other life jackets on the market that do NOT meet the stringent tests for floatation or durability that are not U.S. Coast Guard approved. Many of these are for towed water sports activities. Articles should mention this detail in this kind of story.
  • Reference State Laws: Remind boaters of the state laws when it comes to life jacket wear and related safe boating practices. See NASBLA Expert Sources below. 
  • Be Attentive: Encourage everyone on board to watch out for the safety of all other boaters, especially children, in, on and around their boat.

Fact Sheets

Broad Overview of State Requirements for Life Jackets

Life Jacket Comfort and Fit

Life Jacket Styles

Life Jacket vs. PFD Terminology

Reporters Play a Critical Role in Boating Safety

Why Wear a Life Jacket?

Browse All Fact Sheets

Expert Sources

U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Auxiliary & Boating Safety

National Safe Boating Council (NSBC)

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

American Boat & Yacht Council, Inc.

Life Jacket Association

Browse Federal and State Point-of-Contacts

External Resources

Life Jacket Quiz [COMING SOON]


Case Study Sources