When you are on a boat or riding a jet ski, you should always wear a life jacket. Life jackets are very important and should be worn all the time as much as possible when aboard a watercraft. Do not wait for something dangerous to come up before wearing your life jacket. High-speed crafts like RIBs are very fast; therefore, accidents can happen so suddenly that you will not have the time to grab a life jacket, much less wear one. Life jackets can increase a person’s chances of surviving a boat accident most especially in rough, open water and in remote regions where it might take some time before rescue arrives.
Due to the importance of life jackets, the US Coast Guard has several legislation regarding their use. For instance, they have a regulation that recreational boats must have life jackets or wearable personal floatation devices onboard. The number of life jackets should at least be equal to the number of persons aboard the boat so that each person can have one personal floatation device. Boats that are 16 feet or longer should also have at least one personal floatation device that can be thrown to someone in the water. But having life jackets onboard is not enough. The life jackets must be easily accessible and not hidden somewhere in the bottom of a trunk, or securely tied to the side of the boat.
But even with the numerous federal and state rules and regulations regarding the use of life jackets, many people still do not use them. People have numerous reasons, but none is valid. Some people choose not to wear life jackets because they think life jackets do not look good. For them life jackets are just plain ugly to look at. However, newer life jackets are stylish. They do not look like big orange chunks of foam anymore. Many manufacturers of life jackets have been targeting the style conscious market of beach goers and boaters. Lately, there is even a prototype of a bikini life jacket. This bikini life jacket has floatation materials sewn into places where a bikini normally covers the female body. To encourage children to wear life jackets, you can now buy devices with popular cartoon characters. So, do not be surprised to see SpongeBob life jackets at the beach.
Another reason why some people do not wear life jackets is that they consider themselves strong swimmers. Are life jackets not necessary for you if you are a strong swimmer? I do not think so. Even if you are a strong swimmer, life jackets can still be of great help in making sure that you survive. In case of a boat collision, you might be thrown off and hit something hard. The padding in life jackets can help absorb some of the impact and minimize injuries. In addition, most life jackets normally have bright, reflective colors. This can help a lot in search and rescue operations, especially at night. Finally, even if you are a strong swimmer, you will soon tire of treading water. This is a huge problem when you are in a remote area where rescue may take some time.
Never underestimate the value of life jackets. Look for one that fits you perfectly and always wear it whenever there is even a small chance of falling into the water. Life jackets are supposed to be worn, not hidden in some storage compartment.