Being on the water can be a lot of fun – especially when the sun is shining, and the waves are calm. This is the time when you think you are safe and that you don’t really need that cumbersome lifejacket. But you couldn’t be more wrong. The biggest accidents take place on nice days. Therefore, it is necessary to wear your lifejacket even if things seem perfectly fine – especially when you’re with children.
To Wear or Not to Wear!
If you are new to boating and water sports, you may want to know a little about who should wear a lifejacket and what minimum age limit is for wearing a lifejacket. Here are some answers that you may be looking for.
Let’s answer the first question first – who should wear a lifejacket. That is simple – everyone!
To the harder part of the question – what is the age limit for wearing a lifejacket? There is none. Everyone of every age must wear a lifejacket while boating. Here are some statistics to help you understand why it’s so important to wear a lifejacket:
- 86% of people who drowned in a boating accident in 2019 were not wearing a lifejacket.
- 80% of the deaths on the water are caused by drowning.
These are statistics that have been taken from the official US Coast Guard website.
What Does the Law Say?
According to the law in the United States, all watercraft need to carry lifejackets. So, you will not find any boat that is not equipped with lifejackets.
Now, here’s where the problem starts. Boaters frequently skip wearing their lifejackets. This could be because these floatation devices can be uncomfortable or because the boaters think that wearing a lifejacket reflects their inexperience or swimming ability. There many who will only don their lifejackets when weather conditions are poor. This is, sadly, not a good decision.
Studies have shown that wearing a lifejacket increases your chances of survival by a massive 80% if you are involved in a recreational boating accident!
Children, on the other hand, have to wear lifejackets. The minimum age limit ranges from 10 to 13 years, depending on where in the US you’re boating.
Each state in the US has its own boating laws, especially regarding the age limit on lifejackets. Each state also has various exceptions when children do not need to wear lifejackets. For example, in North Dakota, all children below the age of 10 have to wear lifejackets all the time. But in Texas, that age limit is 13 – and children do not need to wear lifejackets if the boat is moored, aground or anchored.
And there are also a few states where there are no explicit laws for lifejacket use. In such states, the laws of the US Coast Guard apply.
While the law doesn’t explicitly state that you need to wear a lifejacket (unless you’re a child), it is in your own interest to do so – even if you are an experienced boater and swimmer.