Boating season is here and it's a great time to remember that Minnesota law requires a life jacket be worn by children less than 10 years of age when aboard a moving watercraft.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, it takes as little as 30 - 45 seconds for a child non-swimmer to drown and it often happens with an adult nearby who doesn't recognize the quiet distress signals.

It's a simple fact that life jackets save lives and having an appropriate one is crucial to keeping everyone safe.  The video above will help you get the right fit.

Here are some things to check for when buying a life jacket for a child:

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved label.
  • A snug fit. Check weight and chest size on the label and try the life jacket on your child right at the store. Pick up your child by the shoulders of the life jacket; and tell them to raise their arms and relax. The child's chin and ears won't slip through a properly fitting jacket. Do NOT buy a jacket that is too large, hoping the child will grow into it. Children come in many sizes and shapes. If a lifejacket style does not work well, try another one.
  • Head support for younger children. A well designed life jacket will support the child's head when the child is in the water. The head support also serves to roll the child face up.
  • A strap between the legs for younger children. This helps prevent the jacket from coming off over the child's head.
  • Selecting a fit for children between 30 and 50 pounds. While some children weighing between 30 and 50 pounds may like the freedom of movement that a Type III life jacket provides, only children that can swim and are comfortable in the water should use a Type III. Most children in this weight range should wear a Type I or Type II life jacket.
    Comfort and appearance. This is especially important for teens, who are less likely to wear a life jacket.
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One you have the proper life jacket, using it properly is equally important.  For example, you never want to cut or alter a life jacket.

Please follow the link below for all kinds of helpful information on life jackets for both kids and adults, including some great resources to get your kids interested in water safety.