Take boating safety personally: With personal floating devices

It’s a beautiful day on the lake. The water’s calm. Who needs a life jacket? You and your passengers do.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, most recreational boating fatalities happen in calm water near the shore. And most of these people were not wearing life jackets.

We want you to be safe when boating in Lake County. So, make sure your boat is equipped with the right, properly maintained personal floatation devices (PFDs) and that passengers know how to use them.

Illinois law requires that:

  • PFDs are available for each person aboard a boat or other watercraft.
  • 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.
  • If you’re on a personal watercraft you must wear a PFD at all times.

There are many types of PFDs available—for different types of water activities, conditions and ages. There are self-inflating and manually operated models. There are PFDs designed for paddleboarding, waterskiing, personal watercraft and kayaking. There are models for near-shore and offshore boating. There are even life jackets made for dogs. To learn more about right PFDs choice for your watercraft, click here.

Just as importantly, before going out on the water, make sure all PFDs fit you and your passengers. Too big, and the PFD will ride up around the face. Too small, and it won’t keep a person afloat. And remember, life jackets designed for adults won’t work for children. There are models made specifically for kids.

Here are some fitting tips, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • Check the manufacturer’s label to ensure the PFD is a proper fit for size and weight.
  • Make sure the jacket is properly fastened
  • Hold your arms straight up over your head. As a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up and make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the PFD does not ride up over your chin or face.

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