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Life vests - never head to the water without them.

A life vest is the single most important piece of equipment to take when boating. It has saved many lives and has kept boating and many other watersports relatively safe while being affordable. Wearing a life vest doesn’t just keep you afloat, it also helps provide warmth when you’re waiting to be rescued. Life vests use well-insulated materials that help when the water is cold.

 

Even experienced swimmers should use a life vest for safety. You never know when a sudden emergency or injury may happen. 

 

A life vest is also a required wearable for boats and other marine vessels. The U.S. Coast Guard has guidelines on life vest or personal flotation devices requirements for different categories of vessels. Depending on the size of your boat or the kind of watersports you’re doing, you may be required to use a certain type of life vest. 

 

There are five different types. A type 1 life vest is normally required for commercial vessels. Type 2 life vests are the usual orange life vests you normally see on boats. A type 2 life vest is inexpensive but can be uncomfortable. Type 3 life vests are those that are frequently used for watersports. Kayakers, wakeboarders, sailors, and other boaters use type 3 life vests. Another good thing about type 3 life vests is it comes in different styles and configurations to accommodate the needs of different water sports.

 

Type 4 corresponds to throwable personal floatation devices. An approved personal floatation device is required for most boats that are 16 feet and longer. Type 5 is a category that doesn’t fall into categories one to three. Life vests with unique designs such as inflatable lifevests and life vests with a built-in harness fall into this category. For more information, please check the official guidelines from the U.S. Coast Guard website.

 

Make sure each passenger gets one.

 

Aside from following the correct life vest category for your boat or sport, it’s important to always check if they’re in good condition. Before each boating session, make sure each life vest is not yet worn-out and there are no tears in the fabric or straps. Check if the straps and buckles can be adjusted properly and lock into place properly. Lastly, make sure there’s a life vest that fits each passenger.