When it comes to boating safety, life jackets are your best friend. But where should you store them on a boat? In this article, we’ll explore the ideal places to keep your life jackets, how to build storage for them, and essential rules to follow. So let’s dive in!
The Best Storage Locations for Life Jackets
Stashing your life jackets below deck might seem like a convenient option, but it can be risky. In case of an emergency, retrieving the jackets from below deck will require someone to leave the deck, diverting attention from the water and potentially endangering everyone onboard. Moreover, if there’s a fire or breach, the jackets might become inaccessible.
To ensure quick and easy access, store your life jackets in a neutral location on the top deck. Consider places such as near the bow, behind the console (if you have a center console boat), or even create a dedicated space for them. Just remember to inform your crew about the location of the life jackets.
Building Storage Solutions for Life Jackets
If your boat doesn’t have built-in storage for life jackets, don’t fret! You can easily solve this problem by using overhead storage bags. These bags keep the life jackets out of the way and provide easy access with a simple zipper pull. Alternatively, you can install overhead storage on a hardtop, fabric T-top, or Bimini top to keep your jackets secure and protected from direct sunlight.
Enforcing Life Jacket Rules
As a responsible boat owner or captain, it’s crucial to enforce the use of life jackets and make sure they’re easily accessible. Inform your passengers about the dedicated spot for life jackets and remind them to wear them every time they’re on the boat. Remember, wearing a life jacket is always better than nothing at all.
Avoid storing life jackets in dark or sun-exposed areas, as they can gather mildew and become ineffective during emergencies. For extra safety, consider having personal flotation devices (PFDS) stored in a separate location, as long as they’re not constantly exposed to direct sunlight.
Who Needs a Life Jacket?
Life jackets are essential for everyone participating in water activities, regardless of their swimming abilities. Whether you’re cruising, paddling, waterskiing, hunting, angling, or racing, there’s a suitable life jacket for you. They are available for men, women, children, and even pets, ensuring everyone’s safety on the water.
Remember, a properly fitting life jacket is crucial for keeping your head above water. Ensure that the jacket is neither too big nor too small. Life jackets designed for adults are not suitable for children, so make sure you have the right size for each individual.
Trying on Your Life Jacket
To ensure the perfect fit, follow these simple steps:
- Check the label for sizing information.
- Fasten the jacket securely.
- Raise your arms straight up above your head.
- Have someone tug on the arm openings to ensure there’s no extra room and that the jacket doesn’t ride up over your face.
- Test the life jacket in shallow water with proper supervision for optimal fitting.
Taking Care of Your Life Jacket
To extend the lifespan and effectiveness of your life jackets, follow these maintenance tips:
- Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, as it can cause fabric deterioration and fading.
- Rinse the jackets with clean water after use in saltwater and remove any mud, sand, or stains.
- Let them drip dry in a shaded area and inspect for any rips, tears, or hardware malfunctions.
- Store them in a dry, cool, and dark location, avoiding any bending or placing of heavy objects on top.
- If not in use for an extended period, remove the jackets from potentially damp storage areas to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Cleaning Your Life Jacket
Promptly clean life jackets to maintain their effectiveness, especially if they have stains from food, mud, or sunscreen. Follow these steps:
- Choose a dry day and mix two tablespoons of mild laundry detergent with cool water.
- Spread a drop cloth and place the jacket unfastened on it.
- Scrub the jacket with a soft brush and rinse thoroughly.
- Hang the jacket to drip dry in a shaded area, using a fan to speed up drying. Avoid using a dryer.
- For mold or mildew, brush away the spores before adding oxygen-based bleach to the cleaning solution to remove dark stains.
When to Replace Your Life Jacket
Taking good care of your life jackets can make them last for years. However, it’s essential to test them periodically for safety. Check for any signs of damage, such as ripped or faded fabric, and ensure the foam or padding is still in good condition. In case of any doubts, it’s better to replace the life jacket to guarantee your safety on the water.
Now that you know the best practices for storing, maintaining, and replacing life jackets, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience. Remember, safety should always be your top priority. Happy boating!
Embedded YouTube Video: How to choose the right life jacket
East Coast Paddle Sports: Check out their website for more boating essentials and safety tips.