Whether you’re a private boater or fish on a sport boat, you should always know where the life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) are kept. When you have a child on board, it’s even more important. Most boats do not carry PFDs for youngsters, so it’s best to bring a jacket that you know will fit your child. If you don’t have a PFD for your son or daughter, you can borrow one from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety’s Kid’s Life Jacket Loaner Program at no cost.
A youngster wearing an adult-sized PFD does not do much good. To help kids find the right-sized life jacket, the program now offers more than 530 locations across the country — marinas, boat clubs, waterfront businesses and even fire houses — where you can borrow kid’s life jackets in various sizes (up to 90 pounds) at no cost for the afternoon, day or weekend. More than 40 new loaner locations have already been added this year.
“Kids wearing an adult life vest provides a false sense of security because they can easily slip out once they hit the water,” said BoatUS Foundation Program Manager Alanna Keating. “It’s better to make a pit stop at one of our loaner locations and grab one that fits. All you have to do is sign it out and return it when you are done. It’s that simple.”
On average the program loans out more than 90,000 life jackets each year, and at least three children’s lives have been saved since the program began in 1997.
To find a location near you and other information on the program as well as the life jacket laws for each state, visit www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/LJLP.