How life jackets can be used improperly, leading to safety issues

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — There are several aspects that could hinder the functionality of life jackets and the Guntersville Rescue Squad is encouraging everyone to be aware of that before heading out on the water.

Life jackets seem pretty straight forward but there are multiple aspects that could create issues in how they function. For parents, officials say these details are vital to their child’s safety while using one.

An important detail to ensure is determining if the jacket has a Coast Guard approval rating on it. “There are some flotation devices out there that you can put on children that are not Coast Guard approved,” Guntersville Rescue Squad member Carrie Jones said. “There are these little, they’re like outfits that you can slip over them that have flotation in them — those are not.”

Jones says there are different life jackets for different water events. The sizing matters as well. There are life jackets for various ages.

“Everything you’re going to need to know is on the inside of that life jacket, from whether it’s Coast Guard approved, to the size, to what its intended use is for,” Jones explains.

While it might not seem like it, the jackets do age, and could become dysfunctional. “As they get older they tend to lose buoyancy, and you just want to make sure you test that out in either shallow water or a pool before you actually get into the water with it,” Jones said. The jackets also need to be cared for properly.

Jones says parents should take the cautions seriously. “It could mean the life of their child or their life.”

Officials say both adults and children should wear their vests while boating.