May is National Water Safety Month. Use the following tips from the “Please Wear It” campaign to ensure that life jackets fit properly and are effective.

1. Check the label.

The label will tell you:

  • Whether the life jacket is Coast-Guard approved
  • The size of the jacket
  • How the jacket can be used

Sizes run from infant to extra extra large. Adult life jackets will not work for children until they weigh about 90 pounds. Children’s life jackets should have a loop on the collar and a strap between the legs.

2. Check for damage.

Check that there are no broken parts and no mold or rips in the fabric.

3. Fasten up.

Adjust all buckles, zippers and straps. Adjust straps so that the jacket fits snugly.

4. Check for proper fit.

  • Lift the shoulders of the life jacket
  • Make sure it does not slip above the chin or ears.
  • It should feel snug, yet comfortable. A properly fitted life jacket keeps your head and shoulders above water. You will be able to swim with it, too.

5. Wear it!

A life jacket only works if it’s worn. Take the time to be prepared. Make sure you have and wear the right life jacket before you go out in the water.