What You Need to Know When Choosing Your Child’s Life Jacket

by Alexander Griffin
What You Need to Know When Choosing Your Child's Life Jacket

Life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) are essential for every water-related activity. They are literal life-savers and have prevented drowning countless times already.

Children must wear these life-saving gear when they are on or near the water, even when you’re just strolling with them on the shore or the docks. Even if your kids already know how to swim, sometimes their abilities won’t be enough in emergencies.

The kids life jackets add protection and give you a sense of security every single time you bring your little loved ones with you in the water. Seeing your kids play and splash in the pool or ocean with these PFDs will surely bring a warm smile to your face. Here are some basic need-to-knows on how to choose the perfect life jacket for the little ones:

The Sizes:

The weight of your child will determine the size of their life jacket. It would be best to find your child’s weight then compare it with the size range. There are three labels or categories that you can choose from:

  • Infant: 3.6 to 13.6 kg
  • Child: 13.6 to 22.6 kg
  • Youth: 22.6 to 40.8 kg

The Types:

There are five PFD categories, but only Types I-III are coast-guard approved for children’s use. Furthermore, your local guides may have their recommendations. You must first check on what they say and select your kid’s jacket according to the activity and water environment they will encounter.

  • Type I: For Offshore

These PFDs are bulky and can be very uncomfortable as time passes by. However, these provide more survivability chances as a person’s face will remain faced-up even when they’ll, unfortunately, be unconscious. These are ideal for open ocean and rough water conditions.

  • Type II: For Near-Shore

These are the most common jacket type appropriate for infants, as it provides an extra float and head support on boating occasions in calm, inland waters.

  • Type III: The Flotation Aids

These lightweight and comfortable gears are most likely appropriate for youth and children who know swimming. They provide the freedom to move, thus are often worn during water-sports activities in calm, inland waters.

The Features:

These kids life jackets have different accents and details per type. A PFD should have:

  • For infants and small children:
  • Extra padded head support or a large collar helps maintain your kid’s head above water.
  • A grab handle or a looped grab strap on the collar should be present to make it easier to retrieve your kid from the water.
  • A loop at the back of the PFDs neck area and armbands that wrap around your child’s torso help to ensure that the child doesn’t slip out.
  • A sturdy strap in the crotch area keeps the life jacket in place.
  • A whistle, reflective tapes, and reflectors can be attached to the jacket to increase visibility precautions for emergencies.
  • For the youth:
  • Have similar features and designs as the adult ones
  • More adjustments or configurations can be made while wearing the jacket if more straps are in place.

The Fit:

A life jacket must fit comfortably snug regardless of age. As with the adults, you can check the fit of your kid’s jacket by lifting the shoulders of the gear. You can adjust the straps as long as the chin and ears don’t slip through.

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