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Life Jackets for the Whole Family

Life Jackets for the Whole Family

Everyone is concerned about safety when heading out onto the water. No matter if it is just to cruise around or to engage in more active water sports like wake boarding and tubing, life jackets are required for every person on the boat.

When it comes to selecting the right life preserver for you and your family members, there are a few things to consider: the size, the material, the use, and the price.

Infant Life Jackets

Life vests come in all different shapes and sizes at Down at the Dock. Many parents are looking for reliable life jackets for kids. Perhaps the child is even younger and should be wearing an inflatable life vest for toddlers. This usually comes in a tight, comfortable material for mobility.

The bright yellow of the Swim School's Aqua Tot Trainer helps keep the toddler within eyesight of the parents. The inflated inner tube provides extra buoyancy for the baby. Alternatively, an extra padding behind the head on the Oneill's Infant Nylon Vest helps to prevent whiplash for developing infants. The handle makes for easy control for the parent dipping the child's legs in but keeping the head safely above water.  

Kids Life Jackets

Children above 4 or 5 years old typically graduate to a mini version of adult-style vests. These kids life jackets, like those made by Stearns or Oneill, allow the child to feel like a grown up while wearing a sleek, modern design life vest with zippers and straps. The Stearns Puddle Jumper is the perfect 'inbetweener' when the infant is learning better swimming skills. Regardless of which infant life jacket you choose, parent supervision is required at all times.

It is important to check for US Coast Guard or USCG patch of approval when selecting life jackets for kids. You can be assured that all life vests are appropriately labeled at Down at the Dock if they passed this key safety check.

It is now federal law governed by the US Coast Guard that children under 13 must wear a certified Personal Floatation Device (PFD) on moving boats at all times (#24 on USCG Website). A key part of this rule is the PFD must fit the child, therefore requiring a proper size for that age group. Be sure to check your state's laws for the required age that kids must wear life vests while on the boat. There is a great resource you can check at the Boat U.S. website

Adult Life Jackets

Adults may not have to wear a life vest at all times, but certain situations will require it. In most states, the following activities will almost always require people of all ages to wear a life vest: driving/riding a jet ski, water skiing, wake boarding, tubing or other towing situations, paddle boarding, and kayaking and canoeing (at least have it in the boat). Here are some facts that explain why it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when out on the water.

While some brands advertise special jet ski life jackets, there really is no reason to pay a premium for their bright colors. A general adult life jacket, like the Stearns Adult General Purpose or Oneill vest will do the trick.  Women can check the Stearn's Women's Anti-Microbial for a fitted womens life vest resistent to mildew between seasons.

The neoprene life vest has become popular among the water skiing and wake boarding communities. This design that feels like a wetsuit has a closer fit and less bulk for improved mobility. Perfect for hopping the wake....or trying to at least.

It is always smart to wear or have a personal flotation device handy when kayaking or canoeing. Should something happen while out on the water you will be able to reach safety. The Kent Adult Type II orange PFD is a classic to have on the boat to meet regulations and for short distance, leisure canoeing. For serious kayakers, both the NRS Vista and Astral V-Eight have received rave reviews from the Down at the Dock community for their light materials, functional pockets, and upper body mobility.

Avoid PFD-Related Fines on the Water

Whether you like it or not life preserver laws and requirements are here to stay. It is important to understand these regulations so you do not get pulled over on the water. Nothing can ruin a great day on the lake like a fine for not having enough PFDs on board. Trust us, we know. This is especially important during holidays when you have more people on the boat. Authorities are always on the lookout to make sure boats have the proper number of personal flotation devices. Best not risk it and better to comply.

Check out our great selection of the best life jackets for all activities on the lake and anywhere else your boating will take you.