Why to Wear a Life Jacket – Why, When, What and How!


Why Wear a Life Jacket – Why, When, What, and How!

If you’re wondering why to wear a life jacket, you should keep in mind that this important device can help you stay safer when you’re out on the water.

Just taking a handful of seconds to strap on a life jacket seems simple enough, but a surprising number of boaters, many of whom are not proficiently able to swim, opt not to put on their life jacket, which can put them in a potentially dangerous position.

In any type of unexpected situation where a person might get thrown or fall into the water (e.g., boat capsizing, loss of balance, etc.), this simple yet critical precautionary measure can ensure your safety and prevent an unfortunate incident.

Reasons to Wear a Life Jacket

1. Life jackets save lives.

It’s as simple as that. Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard compiles a list of recreational boating accidents, and unfortunately, the story is the same year after year:

For boating fatalities in which drowning was the primary cause of death, the overwhelming majority of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.

2. The weather can be unpredictable at times.

Even if the weather is calm and beautiful when you leave the dock, there’s no guarantee that it will stay that way.

It’s far better to be prepared for a wide variety of weather conditions by wearing a life jacket. Interestingly enough, the weather is far from being the primary factor behind most boating accidents.

Again, according to statistics published by the U.S. Coast Guard, factors such as operator inattention, machinery failure, excessive speed, and operator inexperience cause hundreds of boating accidents every year.

3. Good swimming skills do not exempt you from needing a life jacket.

Even if you have excellent swimming ability, it’s always better to stay on the safe side and wear a life jacket.

No human being can factor in all possible scenarios in which you might need the help of a life jacket, so it’s better to be as prepared as possible instead of having to depend solely upon your swimming skills.

Sailors on a boat

Life Jacket Rules

The law requires that for any boat that is less than 16 feet long and for canoes or kayaks of any length, every person on board must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

The jackets must be easily accessible, and all passengers must be shown the location of the life jackets, as well as the location of other important safety equipment.

For yachts 16 feet or longer, the requirements are the same, but with the added precaution that every boat must carry at least one Type IV device that is designed for throwing, such as a ring (lifesaver), horseshoe buoy, or cushion.

In addition, every person aboard a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski, or any person being towed behind a vessel (e.g., water skiing, wakeboarding, etc.), must wear a life jacket at all times.

Life buoy on the beach

When to Wear a Life Jacket

The best time to put on your life jacket is as soon as you board the boat.

For example, many boating tour companies will have your life jacket ready and waiting for you the moment you set foot on the vessel.

When out on the water, your life jacket should be worn at all times until you’re back in the dock and safely on land again.

What Sort of Life Jacket to Wear

Life jackets have come a long way throughout the years, and many technological advances have been made to these devices that surpass the classic orange “horse collar” style life jacket.

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find specific life jackets for each kind of water activity, such as fishing, water skiing, cruising, etc.

In addition, there are other life jackets that feature flotation technology that can help a person turn upright, even after an off-balance fall into the water.

Sorts of life jackets

How to Choose the Right Life Jacket

* The main thing to look for is a life jacket that fits your particular size and weight, according to the manufacturer’s ratings.

* Be sure to buckle or zip the life jacket according to its intended design.

* If your life jacket continues to ride up over your face or chin, it may be an improper fit. You need to have a life jacket that fits well enough around the arm openings to keep it from riding up over your face.

* Your life jacket must be Coast Guard-approved.


Choosing to wear a life jacket is a simple enough task, but many boaters often still ignore conventional wisdom, which can leave them unprepared in the event of an emergency.

Accidents can happen, so it only makes sense to be as prepared as possible.

When it comes to matters of personal safety, it’s always better to err on the side of caution, so make sure to wear a life jacket in order to have a fun and safe time out on the water.

Click here to read more about the best life jackets for dogs

Do you wear a life jacket on board? Please, feel free to leave a comment below, I’ll be more than happy to hear your feedback!

8 thoughts on “Why to Wear a Life Jacket – Why, When, What and How!”

  1. My family and I frequent the beaches and pools here in Florida quite often and I’ve been shopping around for a good life jacket for my 2 boys, aged 6 and 10. Your post is really comprehensive and covers everything that I need to look for. How do I know for sure if a certain model is coast guard approved? Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Hi Julie,

      You simply need to check the label placed on the back of the life jacket, or you can find it in the owner’s manual.

      I hope it helped and please, don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more information, I ‘ll be more than pleased to assist:)

      Thank you for the comment and I wish you a wonderful day!

  2. Nice post. Life jackets are definitely a must if you’re on the water.

    I think you’ve done a great job summarizing why they are so important. It could literally mean the difference between life and death especially if you don’t know how to swim.

    Thanks for sharing this and keep up the good work!

    • Hi Lan,

      Definitely, YES, a life jacket can save your life if something goes wrong , but let think positively and enjoy the trip without being paranoid, as I always say, just put it on and have a good time!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a lovely day!

  3. Hi Danielle
    I found your article very interesting and valuable.

    Even if i personally don’t sail that much i definitely feel safer when wearing a life jacket.

    Basically is the same as seat belt in the car, just put it on and enjoy the ride.
    Safety first always.
    Thanks a lot for the post

  4. I like that you point out that the life jacket should not ride over your face or chin. It’s understandable why this would be important because this could be really uncomfortable while wearing it in the water. I think it is definitely a good idea to make sure that the life jacket fits properly before buying it. Perhaps buying a couple of different sizes would be a smart thing to do if you are going with a group of people.

    • Hi Scott,
      Yes, you are totally right, if the life jacket ride over the face or the chin, not just it won’t be comfortable but it also may not work properly! We really need to be aware of this important detail!
      Well, it would be an excellent idea, of course, but yet, they need the right size. Generally, Yacht charter companies and boat owners possess several life jackets on board:) Anyway, it is always good to renew all of them after a while as they wear out over time.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!


Leave a Comment