Life Jackets for Kids
As a parent, it is essential to be mindful when choosing life jackets for your children. It’s crucial to be familiar with the purpose, function, and the importance of having one. Life jackets are always a safer option compared to water wings, which have known dangers. These jackets are specifically designed to prevent drowning, making them a must-have once your child starts swimming.
Below are some key points to keep in mind when selecting life jackets for kids:
Why choose a life jacket?
A properly fitting life jacket provides the freedom to move while ensuring safety through floatation assistance to the torso. This allows children to use their arms and shoulders to rotate from a face-down to a face-up position in the water, making it easier for them to stay afloat.
What's the difference between a life jacket and a Personal Floatation Device (PFD)?
PFDs and life jackets are often used interchangeably, but there are notable differences between the two. PFDs are lightweight and do not have collars, they allow swimmers to float but do not flip them over, and provide more freedom of movement. Inflatable PFDs are even more comfortable but less likely to turn swimmers over. Life jackets, on the other hand, have a large collar, are bulky, and are designed to turn swimmers from back to front, but may restrict movement.
It is important to note that life jackets are considered the safest option for children.
How to choose the right life jacket for your child?
When selecting a life jacket for your child, consider the following:
- The jacket should fit snugly and not slip over the child’s chin or ears.
- It should have a safety strap between the legs.
- The jacket should be tested in water.
Ensure the jacket is no more than three inches above your child’s shoulders. A too big jacket can be dangerous. The safety strap prevents the jacket from slipping over the child’s head. It is crucial to test the jacket in shallow water.
Make sure the label on the jacket matches your child’s weight. Keep in mind that life jackets for kids are not one-size-fits-all. A jacket that fits one child may not fit another.
A life jacket should also help children be visible in emergency situations, especially in open water. Opt for brightly colored jackets such as yellow, orange or red, and ensure they are approved by Transport Canada or the United States Coast Guard.
Where to buy a life jacket?
Life jackets can be found in stores that carry outdoor sporting goods, including Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Canadian Tire. They can also be found online on platforms like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress.
Tips for optimal use:
- Always ensure straps are fastened and adjusted for comfort
- Attach a whistle to the zipper of the jacket for emergency use while boating
- Properly dry and store the jacket after each use to extend its lifespan
It’s essential to remember that a life jacket or PFD should not replace adult supervision. Children should always be within arm’s reach and wearing a proper floatation device at all times.