National Safe Boating Week 2014

When boating this summer, don’t just carry a life jacket – “Wear It!” May 17-23, 2014 is National Safe Boating Week, and as boating season approaches, now is the perfect time to refresh yourself and your loved ones on safe and responsible boating practices – including wearing a life jacket.

State law requires that anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length at all times the boat is underway, unless they are below deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property.  Illinois law also requires persons of any age to wear a life jacket while operating a personal watercraft or jet ski.

This year’s “Wear It!” National Safe Boating Week theme promotes consistent life jacket wear each and every time boaters are on the water. Whether you’re going fishing or just enjoying a ride on the boat, there’s never an excuse not to wear a life jacket.

Today’s life jackets are available in a variety of sizes and styles that fit boaters of all types. No longer are boaters limited to the old-fashioned, bulky orange life jackets. New options, such as inflatable life jackets, allow for mobility and flexibility for boating, fishing, paddling or hunting, and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

More boating safety resources are available at Additional state-specific boating information is available at The Illinois Department of National Resources boating page.

Below are tips to ensure that you’re ready for a summer full of safe boating:

Try It On

  • Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
  • Make sure the life jacket is properly zipped or buckled.
  • Raise your arms straight up over your head while wearing your life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings, gently pulling up. If there is excess room above the openings and the life jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does NOT fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.

Fit Facts

  • It is extremely important that you choose a properly fitting life jacket.
  • Life jackets that are too big will cause the flotation device to push up around your face, which could be dangerous.
  • Life jackets that are too small will not be able to keep your body afloat.

Important Reminders

  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  • Double-check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities.
  • Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause problems.
  • Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”

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