Quick, Honey, Put on a Life Jacket!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kids having a great time in their life jackets. Photo courtesy of USCG.

Several years ago, I was doing a vessel safety check for the owner of a very substantial yacht, I got to the part where I ask to see the life jackets.  He pointed me to a locker, which I opened to find the life jackets, stowed under an anchor, chain and additional rode. This article is about that.

 Article by Auxiliarist Vincent Pica, East Moriches, LI, NY

Inflatable life jackets worn by adults in a bass boat. Photo courtesy of USCG.


No Good If You Can’t Get To Them

I promptly asked him, “sir, do you have any grandchildren?”

” Yes I do, five of them. Why do you ask?”

I replied, “Imagine what forces you will be under when you say these words to your grandchildren, ‘quick! Put on a life jacket!’ and you point to this locker. Which one of your grandchildren will be able to move this anchor to get to the life jackets – which are still in their plastic wrappers.”

He blanched.

No safety equipment is of any use if you can’t get to it.  Or – no one knows where it is except you, the skipper.

“Honey, hey, enough! Here, look at this – right now – go get everybody in life jackets. Now!”

Smiling faces all wearing properly fitted life jackets. Photo courtesy of USCG.


  • Wearable life jackets must be readily accessible.
  • You must be able to put them on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.).
  • They should not be stowed in plastic bags, in locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them.
  • The best life jacket is the one you will wear.
  • Though not required for adults, a life jacket should be worn at all times when the vessel is underway. A wearable life jacket can save your life, but only if you wear it.
  • Life jacket laws vary by state, check to make sure you are good to go.
  • Throwable devices must be immediately available for use.
  • Have a life jacket for your canine friend too.

Have fun and be safe out there!

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  1. Steve Rosenberg says:

    I have one almost better. I was one of the examiners doing an exam on a UPV (comm’l 6-pak boat). A UPV exan has been referred as a VE on steroids. Well one of the items we check is the throw ring. 1) it has to be the correct one, 2) the line has to be NOT attached to the boat and 3) it has to be IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE. Well after climbing 1/2 way up the tower with the boat owner, he asked if I had a knife to cut the 2 wire ties holding it in place. He failed that part of the exam.

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