Safety First: Keep your children protected with an approved life jacket

We want your kids to be safe when boating in Lake County—and that means wearing life jackets.

In Illinois, anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet at all times the boat is underway, unless they are below deck in an enclosed cabin or on private property.

But be aware—and this is very important—life jackets designed for adults won’t work for children. You must choose a model made specifically for them.

Here are some tips:

  • Select your child’s lifejacket based on his or her weight. There will be a “User Weight” indication on the label.
  • Although there are “infant life jackets’ on the market, the U.S. Coast Guard doesn’t advise taking infants onboard recreational boats.
  • Make sure your child tries on the life jacket before buying it. To work correctly, it must fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.
  • Have your child wear and practice swimming with the life jacket in calm, shallow water so that he or she can experience how it will feel and act.
  • Never let your child wear “arm floaties” in lieu of a life jacket.
  • Inflatable personal flotation devices are only authorized for those at least 16 years old.

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