Coast Guard Auxiliary Reports

Thank you to Phil Hill for the following information as a follow-up to National Safe Boating Week. We also want to honor those in our armed forces who were remembered for their ultimate sacrifice this past Memorial Day.

Last week we discussed paperwork that could make your time on the water a pleasant experience. Now let’s talk about life jackets. 81% of boating accident deaths are due to drowning. Of these accidents, 83 % of the victims were not wearing life jackets, yet 2/3 of these victims were said to be good swimmers. A properly fitting life jacket is required for each person aboard a recreational vessel. Life jackets must be Coast Guard-approved, in serviceable condition and the appropriate size for the user. On a vessel underway, children under 13 must wear an appropriate Coast Guard-approved PFD, unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
New life jackets feature information in four main categories, usually in separate boxes. At the top of the label, is sizing information. The sizing usually specifies a user weight range and chest size range. Proper fit is one of the most important considerations when choosing a life jacket. Check for fit by raising your arms above your head while wearing the life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up. The life jacket should not ride up over your chin or face. Ensure your life jacket fits properly with no excess room above the arm and neck openings. A snug fit in these areas shows the life jacket fits properly. The label inside the jacket will tell You: Performance, Buoyancy and Turning Information; Warnings, Intended Activity and Limitations of Use; Manufacturer, Certification and Approval Information; Care and Maintenance Instructions.
Remember life jackets must be accessible on your vessel and not in an out of reach location. Make sure you have removed them from their original packaging. On a boat that is 16 feet or longer (excluding canoes and kayaks) you must also carry a throwable PFD. Keep this close to the helm for easy access. If you are interested in using an inflatable life jacket, make sure it is properly armed with an unused gas cylinder. These are only authorized for persons at least 16 years or older.

Life jackets have come a long way since the basic orange jacket from your youth. There are specific PFDs for kayaks and canoes that are easy to wear while paddling. Make sure to attach a whistle and a light to your PFD. This is a good idea for anyone on the water. Search for a jacket that is comfortable to wear. It is very hard to put on a life jacket in the water. Test yourself by trying to put on your jacket in a pool. This may convince you to wear your jacket while on the water. Please have a great boating season and stay safe. Happy holiday!
Thanks to Sherrie, we will always remember safe boating is no accident! Check back next week for more safe boating tips!!

If you would like to learn more about vessel safety checks, please contact Steve Hults, Staff Officer for Vessel Examinations at

Please contact us for more information about our safe boating classes or learning more about getting involved in the Auxiliary, check out our website at follow us on FaceBook @ Apalachee Bay Flotilla 12 or contact our Flotilla Commander Phil Hill at

Please contact us to learn more about getting involved in the Auxiliary, check out our website at follow us on FaceBook @ Apalachee Bay Flotilla 12 or contact our Flotilla Commander Phil Hill at

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian volunteer component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit