Life Jackets – How and Why to Wear It!

Spring Break is already just around the corner. Thousands of people will come to relax on our spectacular Florida beaches and enjoy themselves at Disney, Universal or Seaworld. Or maybe you’re among the lucky ones and live full time in Florida. 

What’s one of the best ways to beat the heat while having fun in Florida? Going on the river of course, with 321 Boat! And what must be one of your main concerns when you are on a boat? Safety.

Better safe than sorry!

The more you know about safety and prepare in advance, the more you can focus on enjoying yourself while you’re on the water. At 321 Boat, safety is our priority. We value our customers and when somebody comes to rent a boat, we are happy to explain all the safety rules that apply on our waters. 

If you want to learn more, the BoatUS Foundation’s Online Course is a free Online Boating Safety Course approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Let’s talk life jackets.

When you are on the river, one of the biggest risks is falling in the water, and in the worse case scenario, drowning. That’s why, when you rent a boat, a kayak, a paddle board with 321Boat, we will give you a life jacket and recommend that you wear it, even if you are older than the law requirements.

First, let’s see what is required by federal and state law...

Federal and Florida law requirements

Children’s life jacket requirements vary from state to state, however, federal law requires that all children under the age of 13 wear a life jacket on a moving boat. The only exceptions to this rule are if the child is below deck, in an enclosed cabin, or if the boat is not underway.

Florida law requires the following with respect to life jackets:

  • All vessels must carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board.
  • Children under six years of age must wear a life jacket at all times while on any vessel less than 26 feet in length that is underway upon Florida waters. (“Underway” means any time except when the vessel is anchored, moored, docked, or aground.) 
  • The life jackets must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for life jackets is based on body weight and chest size.

Kayakers and canoeists are required by Florida statutes to have a Life jacket on board, though they are not required to wear them.

Although persons on the paddleboard are not required to wear the life jacket while on Florida waters (unless they are less than 6 years of age), it is advisable to find a comfortable life jacket that you can wear or easily carry while on the water.

As we said, we will give you a life jacket and we will, kindly, ask you to wear it even if you are older than 13. It is not to bother our 321customers, it is to protect them. Many of you would answer “but I am a good swimmer” or “I will look ridiculous” but let’s check some facts and see why there’s no excuse not to wear a lifejacket on the water!

Safety first!

Boaters enjoy the feel of sun and spray. So it’s tempting to boat without wearing a lifejacket especially on nice days. But most boating related drownings happen on nice days.

The best life jacket is the one you will wear.

FWC, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, joined the Coast Guard in raising public awareness on the use of life jackets:

WEAR IT Florida Campaign

Did you know that Florida has the unfortunate distinction of being the national leader in annual boating fatalities? A majority of fatalities every year are boaters who fall overboard and drown. These deaths can be easily prevented by wearing a lifejacket. Wearing a lifejacket can mean the difference between a fun day on the water and becoming a statistic. Don’t believe it could happen to you? It happens in Florida to an average of one person each week who never thought it could happen to them either. This is where the Wear It Florida campaign comes in to play. The campaign goal is clear and simple:  to increase the number of recreational boaters who consistently wear a life jacket while on the water.

Even if you feel comfortable on a boat because you have experience, or you can swim, or because you know that the average depth of the river is only 4 ft, you put yourself at risk by not wearing it.

It’s important that the general public be aware that life jackets aren’t just for young children and those with difficulty swimming. If you fall overboard, it’s possible to hit your head or become otherwise disoriented, leaving you without your usual faculties for swimming and self-preservation. This is what life jackets are for! A life jacket will ensure that you stay at the surface of the water, able to breathe with your face above the water, until you can be assisted by someone else. Even if you’re not disoriented in any way, in a stressful situation, even the best swimmers quickly become tired of treading water and find it difficult to stay at the surface, especially in rougher waters.

We can all agree, wearing a coat in winter is more than annoying, but, when the temperatures are below 33 degrees F, it can save your life. Same for Life Jackets.

Statistics don’t lie

March is the month where most of the accidents happen and, sadly, Florida is the national leader. Statistics show that, accidents that occur the most are falls overboard, while cruising. 

In 2020, most of boating fatalities were caused by drowning and the average victim was a +51 years old male, with at least 100 hours boating experience.

A striking majority of those victims did not wear a life jacket. And 50% of them were not ejected, but simply fell off the boat.

The majority of accidents were not drug or alcohol related, and occurred in state waters like ponds, lakes, and rivers.

I can hear you: “Enough, enough! I am convinced… but how can I be sure to wear it properly?”. Don’t worry, 321 Boat is here to help. We’ll provide a life jacket that fits you perfectly and make sure you know how to wear and adjust it.

How to wear a life jacket correctly?

When you arrive at 321 Boat Rental, our staff will help you find the perfect fit for your life jacket before making sure that you’re able to adjust the straps properly and wear it comfortably. According to the National Park Service, the fit of your life jacket should be comfortable but snug. To quickly check the fit, fasten and secure all of the straps and raise your arms. Your vest should stay and not ride up. You can also have someone lift the jacket up at your shoulders; it should not go above your ears.

You and your life jacket are now ready to enjoy some fun on the water!

Come and see us at 321 Boat to rent a boat, paddle board or a kayak. You can also book online if you prefer!

We’ll ensure you have an incredible experience!

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