"Right" Life Jackets Crucial for Safety

"Right" Life Jackets Crucial for Safety

Jul 02, 2009

As you and your family heads off to our region's lakes and rivers and swimming pools, the Spokane Regional Health District wants you to know that your old life jackets and other personal floatation devices (PFD) may need to be replaced. Make sure that every member of the family has a PFD that fits properly, is in good condition, and will be effective.

"Everyone should wear properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jackets when boating, fishing and participating in other water activities," says Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. "In addition, to prevent a tragedy, it is essential that all children wear a life jacket whenever in or near water."

Life Jacket Coupons
To assist families in purchasing affordable, properly fitting life jackets, Big 5 Sporting Goods is partnering with the Health District and the Inland NW Drowning Prevention Coalition to provide 25% off discount coupons for life jackets. The coupons provide tips for proper life jacket selection, fit and use, and may be redeemed at any Big 5 Sporting Goods Store in Washington or north Idaho through September 30th. The coupons may be used by all ages, as adults are encouraged to use life jackets to prevent drowning and to provide a positive role model for kids. The coupons are available at 324-1560 ext 4 or by clicking here.

View a video showing how to properly select and fit a life jacket.

Important Life Jacket Tips:

  • Even the most experienced swimmers and boaters can misjudge changing water conditions in open water. Be prepared at all times by wearing a life jacket - you'll never know when you'll be tossed into the water.
  • Parents are powerful role models - if they wear life jackets, it's more likely their children will too.
  • A number of water safety laws improve the use of life jackets and prevent drowning:
    • Children 12 years old and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on moving boats less than 19 feet in length in Washington.
    • Recreational boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard. The life jacket must be readily accessible, properly sized, and in good condition. This is a nationwide Coast Guard regulation.
    • For additional boating law information go to
  • Take life jackets, a rescue device, a cell phone, and someone who knows CPR whenever you are out on the water.
  • Parents need to teach their children about the dangers of open water at rivers and beaches.
  • Have children wear a life jacket that fits them properly.
  • Many sporting goods stores will assist customers in selecting appropriate, properly fitting life jackets.
  • Watch children closely around water - they can go under water quickly and quietly. See the information below to learn more about a way to make sure that someone is always watching the kids near the water.

Child Watcher Tags:
The Spokane Regional Health District has developed a Designated Child Watcher Tag for use by parents who are supervising children during water recreation activities. These activities include swimming at the pool or the beach, and boating, especially when a group of children are present at waterside social gatherings such as barbecues or birthday parties. The tag contains Rescue Steps and Rescue Breathing Tips for Children and Infants to assist a child watcher needing to respond to a submersion incident. A whistle is attached for signaling the attention of children involved in water play. A brochure also accompanies the tag with information regarding responsible supervision of children around water activities both at home and away from home, with an emphasis on designating a responsible adult to watch the children.

The Designated Child Watcher tags and brochures are being distributed at local community events and are available free to the public by contacting the Spokane Regional Health District at 324-1560 ext 4.