You can lower your risk of drowning by wearing a life jacket — but it can’t be just any life jacket. To truly be effective, a life jacket needs to be the right type and fit correctly.
You probably know you should wear a life jacket when you’re on the water, and you probably know it’s important for kids to wear one, too. (For kids, life jackets typically are required by state law; in states with no law, the U.S. Coast Guard requires anyone under the age of 13 on a moving boat to have one.)
But do you know just how important it is? According to the Coast Guard, drowning causes more than 70% of boating deaths — and more than 80% of victims are found without a life jacket.
Even wearing a life jacket won’t do much good if it doesn’t fit correctly, though. So how do you choose the right one? Here are some tips from experts with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps.
First, choose the right type for your activities. Gone are the days when all life jackets were just those bulky orange vests you might remember from your childhood. There are different types for all kinds of activities now — including recreational boating, paddle sports such as kayaking or canoeing, even hunting and fishing. Some life jackets have auto-inflation features, so they can be worn more comfortably but still provide protection if someone falls into the water.
For recreational boating, vest-type jackets are best, according to the Marines, particularly in calm, inland waters where help isn’t far away.
If you’re going to be in rough water, or further out from shore, an offshore life jacket is better, because it’s more buoyant. Some models are even designed to help prevent hypothermia.
For activities on the water, such as waterskiing, kayaking, etc., specially designed life jackets provide additional range of motion.
Then, make sure everyone has a jacket that fits properly. According to the Coast Guard, if a life jacket is too big, it won’t keep your head above the water. And if it’s too small, it might not have the buoyancy required to keep your body afloat. Remember, a life jacket sized for an adult will not work for a child. Here’s how to get the best fit.
Check the manufacturer’s label for size and weight guidelines.
Fasten the jacket correctly, then hold your arms straight over your head.
Ask a friend to pull up on the jacket, holding the tops of the arm openings.
If there is excess room above the openings, or the jacket rides up over your chin, it’s too big.
It’s a good idea to try the life jacket in shallow water before taking it out for activities.
Don’t forget about your pets. Even dogs that are strong swimmers can struggle in open water or get fatigued. So if you’ve got a dog coming with you on the water, the American Kennel Club recommends a life jacket for them, too! Available at pet stores and online, options include vests, which make it easier to swim, and jackets, which provide more buoyancy.
Remember, nobody expects to be in an accident on the water — and if you think you’ll have time to just throw a life jacket on when something bad happens, think again. In most cases of boating-related drowning, the Coast Guard says, life jackets were stowed on board but not worn by victims.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors by getting out on the water. But no matter what activity you choose, make sure you choose safety — find the right life jacket and wear it!
Summer is here, which means you'll likely see more motorcycles on the road. And the key word here is "see." People driving cars and trucks often fail to notice the motorcyclists around them, partly because they're not accustomed to looking for them.
It's obvious yet bears repeating: Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than car and truck drivers and passengers. Not only are there many more cars and trucks on the road, but there's no such thing as a "fender bender" for a motorcyclist. Even a low-speed collision can seriously injure a rider, not to mention total the bike, so it's important to always give motorcycles extra space and an extra look.
Below are six tips to help you safely share the road with motorcyclists:
Objects in mirror. The object in your mirror may be closer than it appears — especially if it's a motorcycle. Due to its size, it can be harder to determine how close a motorcycle is and how fast it's moving. When turning into traffic, always estimate a bike to be closer than it appears to avoid forcing a rider to quickly hit the brakes — or worse.
Watch those left turns. One of the most common motorcycle accidents involves a car making a left turn directly in front of a bike at an intersection. Give yourself an extra moment to look specifically for motorcycles coming toward you when turning into traffic.
Double-check your blind spot. Carefully checking your blind spot before changing lanes is always a good idea. When it comes to motorcycles, it's critical. A bike can be easily obscured in the blind spot, hidden behind your car’s roof pillars, or blend in with cars in other lanes, so make a habit of checking carefully before changing lanes. Plus, always use your turn signal.
Don’t tailgate. This is another general rule for all drivers, but it's especially important when following a motorcycle. Be aware that many riders decrease speed by downshifting or easing off the throttle, so you won't see any brake lights even though they are slowing down. Following at least three seconds behind the bike should give you enough time and space to safely slow down or stop when necessary.
Stay in your lane. Obviously, motorcycles don't take up an entire lane the way cars or trucks do. But that doesn't mean you can cozy up and share a lane with a bike. Just because the rider may be hugging one side of the lane doesn't mean you can move into that space. Riders are likely doing this to avoid debris, oil on the road, or a pothole, so a bit of mild swerving within the lane can be expected. Do not crowd into the lane with a bike.
Think about motorcycles. Making a habit of always checking for bikes when you drive will make the above tips second nature, and make you a better driver. To personalize it, think about your friends and family members who ride bikes and then drive as if they are on the road with you. Motorcyclists — and everyone else — will thank you.
Congratulations are in order for our fierce leader, Paul Paschall. Mayor Paschall was sworn into office Tuesday, May 14th as the new Mayor of Weatherford. We are extremely proud of Paul and all of his accomplishments that have led him to this role, we know he will be a huge asset to the city and residents of Weatherford. Congratulations Mayor Paschall, we are excited to see what the future holds!
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.