Let’s Talk about Life Jackets!

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The Memorial Day weekend forecast is showing nothing but blue skies and hot temperatures. This is great news for those wanting to get outside and relax on the waterways.  However, with fun comes safety and we feel this is a great opportunity to go over some important life jacket safety tips.

We have been doing a lot of research this week and have noticed the staggering numbers of drowning’s within the past few years here in Missouri. According to the Missouri Water Patrol, the total number of drowning’s in Missouri for 2011 was 15, along with 9 fatalities relating to boating accidents. Since the beginning of May this year there has been one drowning and eight boat collisions with one fatality.

The reasons relating to those individual drowning’s are unknown, however, by snapping a life jacket around you and your loved ones may be that extra step needed in order to save a life this holiday weekend.

Tips and Tricks to Remember When Out on the Water

  • Make sure everyone aboard the vessel has at least one U.S. Coast Guard-Approved personal flotation device (PFD)
  • Read the life jackets label to fit each person’s height and weight
  • Check the fit for children by pulling on the PFD’s shoulders
  • A properly fitted child’s vest should keep a child’s chin and ears from slipping through the neck holes
  • EVERYTIME before going out check your PFD for rips, holes, and tears
  • Check the PFD’s fit in shallow waters first before venturing out to make sure everything is in place and secure (while testing relax and tip your head back) the PDF should allow your chin to stay above water and allow you to breath easily
  • Always wear a PFD that will make you easy to spot to other boaters.  Orange is best 🙂

Age Requirements

According to the  Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division

  • All vessels 16 feet in length or longer must carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard—approved PFD (life jacket) for each person on board or being towed. Vessels less than 16 feet in length must carry one wearable or one throwable USCG—approved PFD for each person on board or being towed. Under federal law, however, a wearable PFD is required for each person on board regardless of vessel length.
  • Children under 7 years of age must weara USCG—approved PFD at all times while on board any vessel, unless the child is confined in a totally enclosed area of the vessel such as the cabin area of a houseboat or day-cruiser.
  • One USCG—approved Type IV personal flotation device must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer and readily accessible,in addition to the above requirements.
  • Each person riding on a PWC must wear a USCG—approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.

Please note: Inflatable toys and swimming aids are NOT substitutes for PFDs.  Also, each type of adventure you are getting ready to embark on may require a different type of PFD.  To find the correct type of PFD, please visit:

If for any reason you need urgent care services this holiday weekend, we will be open with regular business hours at our SW MO and NW AR locations.  For hours and locations, please visit:



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