Wearing a life jacket is important, even if you know how to swim. Life jackets offer buoyancy, preventing people from sinking deep into the water if they fall overboard or become injured.
You may be wondering if there are weight limits for life jackets. In this article, we will discuss whether life jackets have a weight limit and what you can expect from using them.
Are There Weight Limits for Life Jackets?
Life jackets are often called personal flotation devices. Generally, there are no weight limits for life jackets, unless you are shopping for a child.
For adults, you select a life jacket based on your chest size. Because people become more buoyant in water, life jackets will keep a 600-pound person above water as easily as someone who only weighs 100 pounds.
The reason people float in water is that the human body is around 15% fat, on average, and fat is lighter than water.
This is why any life jacket will keep anyone afloat as long as it fits correctly.
Life Jackets for Children: Weight Matters
When selecting a life jacket for a child, there are weight limits. You need to purchase a life jacket according to your child’s weight and not their chest size.
You will find child life jackets labeled in one of three sizes: infant, child, or youth. The weight limits for each are as follows.
- Infant – 8 to 30 pounds
- Child – 30 to 50 pounds
- Youth – 50 to 90 pounds
How to Select a Life Jacket Based on Your Size
To determine the correct life jacket size, you will need to measure your chest around the thickest portion. The life jacket needs to fit snuggly but should not be too constrictive.
If you can get three fingers in the gap between your shoulder and the vest, the life jacket is way too big.
If a life jacket is too large, it can float up over your face and prevent you from breathing. A perfect fit is essential, no matter your weight.
How to Check the Buoyancy of Your Life Jacket
Flotation is essential for a life jacket. The buoyancy of a life jacket is the force in pounds required to keep a person’s head and chin above water.
Most people will need an extra 7 to 12 pounds of buoyancy to stay afloat while in the water. The vast majority of life jackets provide more than enough flotation.
There are ways you can test the buoyancy of your life jacket to ensure it is safe and effective.
To test the buoyancy of a life jacket, put it on and enter deep enough water that allows you to float without touching your feet on the bottom. Relax and tilt your head back.
If the life jacket is effective, it will stay in place, and you should easily keep your face and chin above water at all times.
If you cannot breathe easily and your face and chin do not stay above water, you need a life jacket that offers more buoyancy.
Learning about the types of life jackets is essential before you purchase one.
Types of Life Jackets
Now that you understand how to get a proper fit for your life jacket, you need to know the types. There are five categories of life jackets. The following are the five types.
- Type I – These have the most buoyancy and are ideal for remote waters. The level of buoyancy of this life jacket keeps most unconscious people face-up and afloat.
- Type II – These life jackets are for calmer waters and are less bulky and expensive.
- Type III – This type of life jacket is ideal for paddlers, such as while canoeing and kayaking.
- Type IV – These are considered backup personal flotation devices.
- Type V – These are worn at all times and are considered special-use devices.
Tips for Wearing a Life Jacket
Although life jackets are not always required by law, they should be worn at all times while in the water, even if you know how to swim.
A life jacket can save your life, especially if you wear it properly and it fits correctly.
- Life jackets must fit precisely.
- Life jackets must be approved for a specific activity.
- Life jackets must be in good and useable shape.
- Life jackets should be Coast Guard-approved.
- Life jackets must be worn at all times by those under the age of 13.
Wear Your Life Jacket!
There is no excuse to go without a life jacket. These personal flotation devices are affordable, easy to use, and effective.
Wearing a life jacket is the best way to prevent drowning, even for those who know how to swim.