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WinterRiver 05-09-2008 05:57 PM

Inflatable life vest for big kids??
Does anyone know if inflatable life vests legal for kids under 16? I haven't been able to find any definitive information as to whether there are any inflatable life vests that are USCG approved for kids under 16.

My daughters, 11 & 12 years old, have been begging for inflatable life vests to replace the vest style life jackets they've been wearing. They understand that the law requires life jackets when we're underway, so that's not a problem. The issue is that they see that they're required to wear something that's bulky and hot while on deck when there are less obtrusive options. It's sad that they sometimes would rather hang below than put on the life jacket.

The information I've seen, when ages are included, says, "USCG approved for persons at least 16 years of age weighing 80 lbs. and above" for the inflatable vests. For example, Auto Hydrostatic Inflatable PFD Some versions do not include an age, but the "at least 16" on some makes me wonder if there's a regulation against using them for kids under 16. My daughters are 5'2" and 5'3" (until next week when they grow again) and both weigh significantly more than 80 pounds. Think of petite women, not kids.

Can anyone point me to better information? Or send me a link to an inflatable vest that's approved for adult-sized kids?

(Those of you who are from other countries and do not have the various US state and federal regulations to contend with may be thankful.)

blt2ski 05-09-2008 06:12 PM

i do not have the legal answer, but if it were me, I would worry about the weight part, more than the age! As such, if my daughters were still that young, currently 16 and 19, or the twin sons, 22, and above 80 lbs, body parts large enough size wise such that when it inflated it held on them etc. I'd go for it!


WinterRiver 05-09-2008 07:55 PM

I'm not too worried about the fit or their safety. got me thinking about the legal issues.

sailingdog 05-09-2008 09:10 PM

I think the main reason they don't want kids younger than 16 wearing inflatables is that kids that young may not understand the issues with an inflatable, like having to manually inflate it if it fails to automatically inflate.

JohnRPollard 05-09-2008 09:10 PM


My understanding is that inflatables are not approved by the USCG for use by individuals below the age of 16.

There used to be a kids' hybrid pfd inflatable, by SOS. I don't think it's available anymore, though:


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