Kayaking with Kids: Life Jacket Safety [Videos]
Even though it should be a given, this first video discusses why our kids should wear a life jacket (or PFD—personal flotation device) anytime they’re out paddling, even if they’re good swimmers:
Why Kids Should Wear a Life Jacket Anytime they Paddle
There’s a big difference between swimming and paddling in how much of the situation a child gets to control.
When swimming, kids can choose where they swim, how and when they enter the water and how deep they go out.
When paddling—whether with a canoe, kayak or paddle board—those choices disappear if they end up in the water unexpectedly. Wearing a life jacket helps ease any panic reaction so kids can either get to shore or get back on the watercraft.
Most kids, unless they’re extremely aware, won’t think about how deep they get while paddling. Or, if they’re not familiar with the lake or river they’re on, won’t know how deep they are.
They can easily paddle out further than they’re comfortable swimming. Again, if they accidentally end up in the water for whatever reason, that life jacket will not only help reduce panic, it could save a life.
Not only do kids need to wear a PFD when paddling, it needs to fit properly:
Make Sure Your Child’s PFD Fits
Kids can’t wear just any life jacket. It needs to be Coast Guard-approved and be the right size for them.
All PFDs have labels that indicate if they’re approved by the Coast Guard. The label will also give the size and a weight range it’s designed for. It’s important you don’t buy one your child will grow into eventually—invest in the correct size for now.
For very young children—those under 50 pounds—life jackets will usually come with a neck collar and crotch strap to make them even more secure. The neck collar helps keep their head above water, and the crotch strap keeps the PFD securely in place.
Have fun paddling—safely—with your kids!
For more on paddling safety, download our free “Paddling Safety Guide”
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