Life Jacket Safety in Oregon

When you or your loved ones are in or around the water, you need to take all necessary safety precautions, including having life jackets for everyone. The need for life jackets is not always talked about. However, a recent drowning has made many people realize just how important they are. In August, the body of a 15-year-old boy who disappeared while wading in the Sandy River at Oxbow Regional Park was recovered.

Lt. Anthony Foster, a Gresham fire spokesperson, says that the keen was wading in keep deep water when he went under at a drop-off in the river. The boy was not wearing a life jacket when he was found. In July, an 8-year-old boy drowned in the Sandy River in the same park. He, too, was not wearing a life jacket.

Safety first, every time

Many people do not think they need life jackets. However, these incidents highlight just how quickly a situation can get out of control. Life jackets are much more comfortable and lightweight than the kind many people are used to. Some life jackets use inflatable technology that only inflates when the user is immersed in water.

Choosing the right life jacket

If you are planning to be around the water, whether boating or participating in other water-related activities, you should start searching for a life jacket that is right for you.

  • Try the life jacket on. Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
  • Make sure the life jacket properly zips and buckles.
  • Raise your arms over your head while wearing the jacket and grab the shoulder material, gently pulling up. If there is excess room above the openings or if the life jacket rises over your face, it is not a proper fit.

Some of the things to keep in mind when choosing a life jacket include:

  • Make sure any life jacket you choose is US Coast Guard-approved.
  • Adult life jackets are not appropriate for use by children. Children should all have properly fitted, child life jackets.
  • On recreational vessels, children under 13 years of age must wear a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
  • Life jackets must be work in Class III or higher whitewater rapids.

Different types of life jackets

There are various types of life jackets on the market.

  • Inflatable Life Jackets. These are becoming popular because they are lightweight, comfortable, and do not restrict movement. They are not approved for high impact activities, like riding a personal watercraft.
  • Type I – Wearable Offshore. These are intended for use offshore or in potentially rough waters where rescue may not be likely. These have a greater floatation value than other life jackets and are designed to turn an unconscious person face-up.
  • Type II – Wearable Inland Use. These are designed for regular boating activities and are suitable for areas where rough water is not likely or where quick rescue is likely.
  • Type III – Wearable General Use. These are intended for boating activities like canoeing, skiing, or fishing because they allow for a greater range of motion. They are suitable for areas where rough water is not likely.
  • Type IV – Throwable Device. These are intended to be thrown to someone who has fallen overboard. They are designed to be grasped and held by a user until they can be rescued.
  • Type V – Wearable Special Use Devices. These are designed only for certain commercial activities such as sailboarding or commercial whitewater rafting. These are not to be used for recreational purposed.