SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A simple life jacket can make or break a child’s chance of surviving a water accident, yet every year some kids go without.
KOLR10 met with Steve Firestine, the general manager of fishing and marine for Springfield’s Bass Pro Shops to find out how to properly fit your child.
“Foam vests come in two different sizes,” Firestine said. “There’s a 30 to 50 pounds and a 50 to 90 pound. So the key is making sure the buckles are snug… snug to the body. And then when you pull up on the shoulder pads, you wanna make sure this doesn’t come up over their ears or basically over their heads.”
Infant life jackets are also widely available. They come with an extra foam piece at the top and strap for between the legs. Closer fitting neoprene jackets are the best option for water sports.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 84% of drowning deaths by boat were not wearing a life jacket. Half of recreational boating fatalities happen in calm water. Kids 7-years-old and under must wear one unless they’re in the cabin area of a boat. And anyone who does not know how to swim, whether in a pool or on a boat, should wear a life jacket at all times.
Parents or caregivers can be prosecuted for child abuse or neglect if something bad happens to a child under their supervision and it could’ve been prevented. Drowning deaths without life jackets are included.