Choosing the Best Life Jackets for Kids

Match the Best Jacket to Your Activity

The U.S. Coast Guard classifies life jackets into five different types, but only Types I-III are approved for children to use. Select the jacket best suited for the type of activity and water conditions your child will encounter.

Type I - Offshore Life Jacket
Best for: extended survival in rough seas, open ocean, or remote water where quick rescue is unlikely
Advantages: designed to turn an unconscious person face up; lots of buoyancy
Disadvantages: bulky, not comfortable for extended wear

Type II - Near Shore Buoyant Vest
Best for: calm, inland water and most general boating activities where there is a good chance of a quick rescue
Advantages: many turn an unconscious person face up; less bulky than Type I
Disadvantages: will not turn all unconscious persons face up; not intended for extended support in rough seas

Type III - Flotation Aid
Best for: calm, inland waters only
Advantages: most comfortable and lightweight; easy to wear for extended periods of time
Disadvantages: most not designed to turn an unconscious person face up; not suited for rough waters or open seas

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