Wyoming Boating Safety Course


It's important to teach children how to properly wear a PFD. In most situations, children panic when they suddenly fall into the water and tend to move their arms and legs vigorously, thus making it hard to safely float in a face-up position.


It is extremely important that an infant or child’s PFD be of the proper size and fit, and that it is tested in a safe place in shallow waters. The child must not be able to slip out of the jacket. Crotch straps are an important feature and are used to ensure a snug and secure fit. As well, most child lifejackets feature a large collar for head support. To check for a good fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD. If it is the right fit, the lifejacket will fit snugly and not slip above the child’s chin and ears.

Infant and child life jacket approvals are based on the child's weight. The "User Weight" or approval statement found on the life jacket label will indicate the weight range that the PFD is intended for.



Less than 30 lbs

Child Small

30-50 lbs

Child Medium

30-50 lbs


50-90 lbs

Age Newborn to 2 years 2 to 5 years 4 to 8 years 6 to 12 years

Chest size

16 - 20" 20-23" to 23-25" 21-25" 26-29"


Wear Requirements

Child life jacket laws vary by state, however Federal Regulations require that youth under the age of 13 wear a USCG  approved PFD at all times when underway or on a deck. The only exceptions to this regulation are:

  • while the child is below the deck or in an enclosed cabin
  • while the boat is NOT underway 

Existing regulations in some states, which widely vary, remain applicable for state enforcement. Check state-specific regulations before getting underway with children onboard.

IMPORTANT! A child’s PFD or lifejacket is NOT a substitute for adult supervision.


Tips for selecting a PFD for kids

There are several things to consider when selecting the appropriate PFD for your child:

  • Take into account the child’s swimming ability. For instance, children who are not swimmers should wear a Type II Child vest because of its greater buoyancy
  • Age and experience with lifejackets. A child should be taught how to properly wear a PFD by learning to relax and gain control of their bodies while afloat
  • Choose the right type of PFD for the activity
  • Check the sizing and ensure it is appropriate for the child’s weight