Avoid Bringing Babies on Board
Although there are "infant life jackets," most have a large weight range (0 to 30 lbs.) for newborns up to 18 lbs., which make it unlikely that these jackets can provide a secure fit without overwhelming small babies. Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard does not advise taking infants onboard recreational boats. "Unless the parents are able to test their newborn out in a life jacket sized for infants, in a swimming pool, they will not know if that device will float their child with her head out of the water. You must be sure you know the life jacket you have works for your infant. Otherwise we recommend that the child not be exposed to any risk in a boat on the water," warns the Coast Guard website.
Remember the Most Important Thing
The majority of drownings occur in calm, inland waters. Most of those who drowned were within a few feet of safety and had easy access to a life jacket but were not wearing one. Take the time to select the best life jacket for your child's size and activity, and the water conditions, but don't forget the most important thing of all: Life jackets work only if you wear them.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.
Kate Bayless is a freelance writer and editor based in Southern California. You can follow her at www.katebayless.com or @katebayless (http://twitter.com/katebayless)