Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Pitch Your Tent: Wildfires

Reporting A Wildfire

What should I do if my fire gets away?
It could happen. No matter how careful you are, you can start a wildfire. Here’s what you do:

1. Don’t panic! If you can extinguish the fire in less than 5 minutes, do so. If the fire is spreading too quickly, get out of there and call for help. Quick action is important, however, there is no reason to panic.

2. Think about your location. You will need to relay exactly where you are, including the county. If you have a GPS, take coordinates and write them down. If you don’t, use a map and have a description ready. Use landmarks and distances from known points. For example: 5 miles north of Tum Tum Mountain; or on SR-503 about a mile east of Jack’s Store.

3. Get to the nearest phone and Call 9-1-1. If you’re using a cell phone, make sure that you have reached a dispatcher in the county that you’re in or ask them to transfer you to that county. If you can’t find a phone, or don’t have cell signal, find someone with a radio or CB and ask them to call for help.

4. If no one is around, walk or drive to the nearest phone. Remember not to panic. Drive or walk safely. You won’t be able to report the fire if you don’t make it to help in one piece.

5. Tell the dispatcher that you need to report a wildfire and give the description of your location. If you can, tell them how big the fire is (for example: “Its about 20 feet by 20 feet and growing.”) how quickly the fire is spreading, wind direction and speed and what type of fuel the fire is burning (grass, logging slash, forest floor etc.). You may be asked to help lead fire fighters to the fire.

Set Your Hook: Lily Goes Kayaking

Teaching a Dog to Kayak

This past weekend, I decided to take the mascot dog, Lily, kayaking for the very first time.

Lily Camping

Here's Lily getting the most out of camping: digging and dirty!

Let me just share a few tips I learned on teaching a dog to kayak

  1. Invest in a doggy life-vest. Yes, all dogs can swim — it’s instinctual. But, if they leap out of the boat or kayak in the MIDDLE OF THE LAKE do you really want to rely on instinct and pray they don’t get tired?
  2. Attach a leash to the life vest AND to the kayak. That way if they do make the plunge, it’s easy to reel them back in.
  3. Leave the fishing tackle, camera, lunchbox, etc on shore. You don’t want a squirrely, excited dog AND stuff.
  4. Keep the trip short. If the pooch gets stressed, take Fido back to shore. You want it to be fun, not terrifying.
  5. Pick a calm day, smaller lake and keep it relatively close to shore. Again, make it fun not scary.
  6. If people stress your dog out (love or hate) pick a day with fewer people on shore and on the water.
  7. Don’t have anybody else talk to or call for the dog. Maybe they should stay on shore, or in camp, on in another town. (Or maybe out of sight but close enough to help if needed!)
  8. Bring towels!

So, I’m sure that you’re just DYING to know how I came up with this list, right?

When Code Wolf and I were camping at White Horse Lake last weekend, I decided that it was high-time Lily learned about kayaking. Now, being the do-anything dog that she is, Lily will let me harass her in pretty much any manner I see fit.

Lobster Lily

Remember when I dressed her up as a lobster for Halloween?

So, I put her in her oh-too-cute life vest, left all the goodies on shore – Rule #3 – (hence no pics of the event) and took off.

And I promptly broke Rule #5!

It was a breezy day that went from flat water to little bitty whitecaps. She did okay when it was calm but the second the kayak would start to rock in the breeze… well, Lily couldn’t decide if she wanted to be in my lap or as far from the paddle as possible.

I felt we were just getting the hang of it, slowing paddling around the lake. Then here comes Code Wolf to check on us. Happily, he calls out: “Lily! How ya’ doin’?” (Rule #7 — shattered!)

And Lily jumps out of my kayak and tries to run to him!

Of course, she promptly sinks WAY below the surface and then bobs back up, courtesy of aforementioned oh-so-cute life vest. (Rule #1)

But never fear, I just grab the leash (Rule #2) and haul her in. But when I started pulling on the leash, her head went under again! Once I got her back into the kayak I was practically screaming with laughter.

She took offense to that!

After making a half-hearted attempt to continue on around the lake, I gave it up as a bad job and head back to shore. (Rule #4)

Of course, of COURSE, there were people all over the boat launch fishing. (Rule #6) And Lily doesn’t like kids at the best of times but when she’s cold, wet and suffering the indignity of having jumped into the lake… Lots of loud barking ensued.

Once I had Lily back out of the kayak (I dumped her over the side into tummy-depth-on-a-small-dog water — again, I’ll never be forgiven) I hauled her back to the truck.

Thankfully, I had a towel in there. Don’t ask me why, but at the very least, I was able to comply with Rule #8.

Will I take Lily kayaking again? Absolutely! Will I plan it a bit better? Of course! Will she ever forgive me? Maybe, maybe not!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you boat or kayak with your dog?
  • How old was Fido when you started?
  • Tips for teaching an old dog new boating tricks?

Pitch Your Tent: Sun Safety

Don’t Skimp on Sunglasses!

If you’ve read any magazines lately, you’ve probably seen article after article about sun protection. As an Arizona native, I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit nutsy about my sun protection.

And with summer just around the corner, I’ve been after ESP Boss to get new sunglasses (he did) and fussing at CodeWolf to either get contacts and sunglasses or a pair of prescription glasses. (Still working on that one!)

I always wear my hat, I use sunscreen like it’s going out of style, and my sunglasses are my best friends. (Yes, I’m working on a sunscreen article of my own!)

Kim in Sunglasses

But I know a lot of people who don’t wear sunglasses or who aren’t consistent in wearing them. And I’m here to tell you that you need to be!

What are some things to think about when choosing sunglasses for the family?

1. Will they wear them?
Protection does no good if it isn’t used. When you buy sunglasses, make sure the person who’s going to wear them is there to try them on. You’re going for fit first, not looks. So, make sure they don’t slip off the face, pinch the nose, or put pressure behind the ears.

2. Do they offer UV protection?
What’s the point of sun protection if it doesn’t protect? Read labels! If you can get some with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection that’s the best bet for your money. But at the very least make sure that your sunglasses offer some UV protection.

3. How big are they?
Itty bitty sunglasses might look cute, but they don’t really protect the eyes. As anybody who’s fished can tell you, there’s a lot of reflected glare coming UP at you, so make sure they protect the eyes all the way around.

4. How dark are they?
You want sunglasses that are dark enough so you won’t be squinting, no matter how bright the reflections or glares are. Squinting creates wrinkles too, and who wants those?

If you can, walk outside on a sunny day before buying your sunglasses. If nothing else, look at a store’s florescent lighting to get some idea of how the glasses will work outside.

ESP Boss and The Outdoor Princess

Between the hats and the glasses you can hardly see our faces! Trust me, that's ESP Boss and The Outdoor Princess under there!

5. Don’t skimp on cost
I love my polarized sunglasses since they dramatically reduce glare and reflections. Of course, they’re prescription so they were expensive to begin with, but the added cost of polarization is well worth it. But, if your family won’t WEAR the sunglasses (see Tip #1) then cheap or expensive doesn’t make much difference.

I will tell you this, though, if you wear prescription glasses and spend a lot of time outdoors: spring for the extra pair of prescription sunglasses OR the glasses the darken in the sun.

If you wear contact lenses then YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to have a good pair of sunglasses!

You know I LOVE recommending people take a look at for shopping ideas so here’s a link to the page about sunglasses. (Affiliate link)

Readers Weigh In:

  • How often do you wear sunglasses?
  • Crows feet make you look younger: yes or no?
  • What is your favorite pair of sunglasses? (Style, brand, etc)

Find Your Geocache: Removing Cactus Spines

Caches and Cacti

As geocachers, we spend our fair share of time out in the wild, hiking. And sometime during our adventures we’re sure to run into one of the great sticker-plants: a cactus! In researching this article, I’ve heard that there are wild cacti in all the contiguous states except Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

saguaro cactus

Saguaro are iconic cacti. And they ARE native to Southern AZ.

Glad to know that us desert dwellers don’t enjoy a monopoly in these mild forms of torture!

(Hey you Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont people: is it true? Are there REALLY no wild cacti there?)

So I wanted to share with you two tested and proven ways of removing cactus spines.

Removing Big Cactus Needles

Here I was, honestly minding my own business doing some caching in Southern Arizona. Up this super steep hill I go, sign the log, come back down and as I get ready to climb back into the truck I look down to see:

A Hitchhiker!

Cholla in shoe

This is a whole joint from a nasty cactus called a jumping cholla. It doesn’t really JUMP but it will stick to just about anything!

The best way to get rid of a joint of cactus is to gently work a comb between the joint and whatever it’s stuck in. Then FLICK!

Putting the comb behind the cactus

Of course, you need to be sure not to flick it back at yourself or at anybody else! And I recommend having a buddy do it because the last thing you want to do ANYWHERE near a cactus is to sit on the ground!

Group of cactus spines
You can continue to use the comb to get rid of any remaining groups of cactus thorns. Then follow up with a pair of tweezers. We always carry a comb AND a pocket multi-tool for just these things.

Thank you Leatherman Multi-Tool with Tweezers!

Removing Little Cactus Needles

The tiny, nearly invisible, oh-so-terrible, hair-like cactus spines are called glochids. Not ALL cacti have glochids but if you have them stuck in your fingers, that fact is small comfort.

Last Saturday, ESP Boss & I drove to Tucson to visit my grandparents and pick up a kayak my grandfather had bought for me. He got it for a STEAL ($60!) because a packrat had made a nest inside the kayak and the large sections of foam inside were COVERED in glochids.

We had to totally take all the inside parts out of the kayak so we could clean it enough to load it onto the car. And I learned two things:

1. Packrats are really gross creatures who line their nests with cactus spines
2. No matter how careful you are, you WILL get glochids in your hands!

Poor ESP Boss ended up with a half-dozen that he just COULD NOT GET OUT.

Cactus in finger

You can't see it, but it IS there!



Removing Glochids
Tweezers are a good bet but they can shear the glochid off at skin level. It won’t stick out enough to grab it with anything but it will stick out enough for you to brush it against EVERYTHING and generally make yourself miserable.

What we found that worked was covering the area with white glue (Elmer’s is perfect) then pressing a small section of gauze over it. Allow it to dry COMPLETELY and then peel the gauze off.

White glue is cheap -- use plenty!



It might take several tries, but it really does get them out.

ESP Boss likes to do it once with the gauze and then once with just two layers of glue (let it dry completely between) and peel.

With or without gauze will depend on you and on the size/depth of the cactus thorn.



Here’s the good news:

  • Cactus spines aren’t really poisonous. They’ll just make you miserable.
  • They WILL work their way out of your skin. Eventually.
  • Most of the time, they’ll be large cactus needles that are easy to deal with.

Here’s the bad news:

  • Sooner or later you WILL encounter (and be stuck by) a cactus in your geocaching adventures.


Readers Weigh In:

  • What tips and tricks do you have for removing cactus needles? From skin? From gear or clothing?

Set Your Hook: Lightning Safety

Stay Lightning Safe On the Water

Lightning on Water


I don’t know about the weather were YOU’RE at, but Northern Arizona has been having its share of really strange weather this year. Not only is it STILL knock-you-down-wind (weeks after it should have stopped) but we also had a thunder storm last week!

(The type of storm that blows, booms, and only rains enough to get your windows dirty!)

So I wanted to start the summer season off with an early tip about staying safe on the water when a storm is coming in.

Of course, the best way to avoid a lightning strike is to avoid becoming a lightning target. Each year in Arizona alone, several people are killed when the lake they were boating on is struck by lightning. Staying safe is more common sense than anything else!

Stay off or get off the water whenever weather conditions are threatening.

Keep an eye on the weather. Watch for the development of large well-defined rising cumulus clouds. Once they reach 30,000 feet, the thunderstorm is generally developing.

Now is the time to head for shore. As the clouds become darker and more anvil-shaped, the thunderstorm is already in progress.

Watch for distant lighting. Listen for distant thunder. You may hear the thunder before you can see the lightning on a bright day. You know how far you are from shore and you can guess how far the thunderstorm is from the lake. But, can you guess how fast the storm is moving your direction? Can you reach shore, unload the boat, store the gear, get the boat onto shore or into the truck, AND seek shelter within that time? You’d better move!

If a storm comes when you’re boating or swimming, get to land immediately and move away from the river, lake or whatever body of water you’re near. Get off the beach. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and saturated sand or ground conducts electricity very well. Each year people are killed by nearby lightning strikes while they are in or on the water or on the beach.

Weather Radio

Our's is much older but very similar. About the size of an old Walkman tape player.

Carry a portable weather radio with you. There are models that are no bigger than a walkie-talkie that will easily slip into a tackle box or pocket. Think I’m being over cautious? ESP Boss has carried a pocket-sized, battery operated weather radio for YEARS.

Here’s an affiliate link to the weather radios carried by Amazon. The one we own is very similar to the yellow model pictured above.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you carry a weather radio?
  • What do you do if you think a storm is coming in?
  • If it’s raining but not lightning, do you stay on the lake or head for shore?

Pitch Your Tent: Campfires

Putting Out Campfires

Don't let your campfire get out of control.

It is fire season again in Arizona. We’ve already had some devastating fires up near Flagstaff, including the Schultz Fire which burned more than 15,000 acres. In fact, just this week, Flagstaff law enforcement had to deal with an additional THREE little fires. Officials are thinking arson…

Fires take up a lot of airtime on our summer news broadcasts: man-made fires, smoking restrictions, fire restrictions, wildfires, and really scary terms like: “defensible space”, percent contained, homes lost.

You all know how much I love s’mores (4 recipes in one cookbook!) and that I have written articles in the past about safe fire starting. But, one of the most important steps of the fire making process, I’ve only mentioned in passing. And, that’s the right way to put out a fire.


The Basic Elements of Fire

The word “fire” refers to the natural phenomenon that occurs whenever a combustible fuel comes into contact with oxygen at an extremely high temperature. Fire is the byproduct of a chemical reaction in which fuel stored in a combustible fuel is converted to a gas. A fire’s flame refers to the visual indication of light that occurs once the gas is heated, and is evidence that a fire has taken place.

Fires can be man made or natural. When lightning starts a fire in dry grass, it can be just as devastating as a campfire that gets away. A few summers ago, a wildfire in Arizona was actually started by a dust devil. The story goes that a dust devil scooped up a piece of tin, the tin hit a power line and gave off sparks. The sparks fell into dry grass and BANG! a fire was started.

The Fire Triangle

The Fire Triangle was developed by natural scientists as a simple way of understanding the factors of fire. Each side of the triangle represents one of the three ingredients of fire — oxygen, heat, and fuel — demonstrating the interdependence of these ingredients in creating and sustaining fire. Remove any of these three factors from the triangle, and a fire will die.

All 3 = a fire

The interaction of the three equal sides of the fire triangle: heat, fuel and oxygen, are required for the creation and maintenance of any fire. When there is not enough heat generated to sustain the process, when the fuel is exhausted, removed, or isolated, or when oxygen supply is limited, then a side of the triangle is broken and the fire is suppressed.


A heat source is responsible for the initial ignition of wildland fire, and heat is also needed to maintain the fire and permit it to spread. Heat allows fire to spread by removing the moisture from nearby fuel, warming surrounding air, and preheating the fuel in its path, enabling it to travel with greater ease.

Matches, sparks, coals from a campfire not properly put out, a cigarette butt, etc are sources of heat.


Fuel could be defined as any kind of combustible material, and is characterized by its moisture content, size and shape, quantity, and the arrangement in which it is spread over the landscape. The moisture content of any fuel will determine how easily that fuel will burn.

In Arizona, the large number of dead pine trees (caused by drought and the pine beetle) are an easy source of fuel for a wildfire. Since it is still hot and dry here the moisture content is low. When it rains, even dead wood will have a moisture content, absorbed from the rain and the humidity in the air.

Slurry (the red stuff dropped from the planes in the case of a wildfire) is 85% water. It’s used to raise the moisture content and help stop fires.


Air contains about 21% oxygen, and most fires require at least 16% oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during a wildland fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air releasing heat and generating combustion products (i.e. gases, smoke, particles). This process is known as oxidation.

Make Sure it is Out!

1. Let the fire burn down as far as possible. This is why having a small fire is better than having a big fire. Don’t leave a fire unattended.

Step 1

2. Pour water onto the fire and around the fire area. Use enough water to float the coals and totally soak the area. Roll back any rocks from around the fire and pour water in and around where they were. Be sure to put rocks back into the fire ring when you’re done.

Be prepared for ashes to kick up into your face so stand on the up-wind side and pour water on slowly, using a small stream of water. Don’t throw water on the fire since it can actually spread hot coals.

Step 2

3. Stir the coals, ashes and dirt. At this stage, you’ll most likely need to add more water and then stir again.

Step 3

4. Check the coals for heat with your bare hand when you think it is out to make sure there are no hot areas. If there are any hot areas, go back to step 2 and pour on more water!

Make putting the fire out one of the first things you do when breaking camp. Put it out well in advance, so you can watch it for some time before you leave. Make sure that no roots are burning. Do not bury your coals — they can smolder and break out.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Have you had any experiences with a campfire that got away?
  • Have you ever been traveling the back roads and needed to put out an unattended campfire?
  • What tools do you carry with you to put out fires? (Shovel, water, etc)

Mystery Mondays: First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a must-take for any outdoor adventure. Even if you RV camp and leave the medicine cabinet stocked, you still need to have a first aid kit for those minor emergencies that always seem to happen.

At the very least, you’ll need:

  • Band-Aids and gauze squares of various sizes
  • Antiseptic creams and ointments (Like Neosporin)
  • Sterile wipes and rinse solutions (think alcohol pads and a bottle of peroxide)
  • Pain medicine (bring the brands you normally use at home- camping is NOT the time to find out you’re allergic to aspirin!)
  • Tweezers, scissors, and knife
  • Sunburn relief spray
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine (Pepto-Bismol is a good all-round stomach settler. I always take some with me when I’m traveling.)
  • Antacid medicine
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug bite medicine
  • Lip balm like Chapstick
  • Fine tooth comb
  • Antihistamine cream and pills (like Benadryl)
  • Any prescription medicines
  • Latex gloves
  • Safety pins
  • Elastic bandage (like an ACE bandage, in case of a sprain)

These are just a few of the items in my first aid kit.

If you’re heading out with kids, be sure to also bring:

  • Children’s pain reliever (like Tylanol or Advil)
    Children’s Benadryl
  • Children’s version of any over the counter drugs (like anti-diarrhea meds!)

I also always take a healthy supply of my allergy medicine so I can breathe while I’m out.

Ladies, also remember to keep a stock of your, a-hem, girly items, just in case. Also, sanitary napkins make good bandages since they are sterile and highly absorbent.

What kind of accidents should you anticipate while on an outdoor adventure? I always manage to get a minor scrape, cut myself either cooking or cleaning fish, and get sunburned while fishing. I’ve also had an upset stomach from eating rich “camping” food, have been eaten alive by mosquitoes, gotten splinters in my hands, or twisted my ankle.

Cautionary Camping Tale

When I was about a year old, my parents went camping with another family. The three kids suddenly came running into camp yelling that Becky, the youngest daughter, had just eaten a toadstool.

Well, we all know that mushrooms and toadstools can be VERY poisonous so Becky’s parents were understandably freaked out. Unfortunately, they hadn’t brought anything to induce vomiting. Becky’s dad drove at top-speed, through a driving rainstorm, to have her stomach pumped at the nearest hospital.

(To this day, we still aren’t sure if she ACTUALLY ate the toadstool or not!)

It will be up to you, if you would also include something to induce vomiting, like syrup of ipecac. If your child ingests something he shouldn’t at home, poison control is just a phone call away. But out in the wild where cell phone signal might be spotty at best…

What I can say is: if you are going to induce vomiting, be sure to collect the contents of the stomach so it can be analyzed. After vomiting, drink some plain water. And, it would probably be best to head for a hospital as soon as possible.

In Arizona at least, there is cactus all over the state! That’s where the fine tooth comb comes in- you can use it to flick off large pieces of cactus (like cholla) or remove spines from yourself or your pet.

Don’t be afraid to dig into the first aid kit while you’re camping. When you get home from your trip, be sure to replace anything you used in the kit. Be sure that your alcohol pads are still juicy, the medicines haven’t expired and heat (or moisture) hasn’t ruined the sticky on the bandages.

If you need to buy a first aid kit, the Coleman Base Camp First Aid Kit is a good starter kit that will have enough supplies to get you started. I recommend a kit that is designed with outdoor recreation in mind!

The Coleman Base Camp First Aid Kit is a good place to start.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What do you keep in your first-aid kit?
  • What supply do you ALWAYS make sure to carry?
  • Have you ever needed a supply and not had it? What did you do?

Set Your Hook

Picking a Life Jacket

The Outdoor Princess in the Kayak

For a lot of people, fishing and boating go hand in hand. Since I’ll be doing some fishing from my kayak next weekend, I wanted to write about life jackets. Life jackets are also known as a life vest. The proper name of a life jacket is actually Personal Floatation Device or PFD.

But come, on, who really says: “Be sure to wear your personal floatation device today, honey, when you’re catching our dinner!”? Life jacket, life vests, life preservers, personal floatation device: it all comes down to what type do you need and when do you need to wear it.

Categories of Personal Flotation Devices:

The United States Coast Guard has broken the types of personal floatation devices into 5 categories:

Type I – Offshore Lifejacket

This PFD is designed for extended survival in rough, open water. It usually will turn an unconscious person face up. See the life vest at

Example of Type I

Type II – Near Shore Buoyant Vest

The “classic” Personal Floatation Device comes in several sizes for adults and children and is for calm inland water where there is chance of fast rescue. It is less bulky and less expensive than a Type I, and many will turn an unconscious person face-up in the water. See the life vest at

Example of Type II

Example of Type II

Type III – Flotation Aid

These life jackets are generally considered the most comfortable, with styles for different boating activities and sports. They are for use in calm water where there is good chance of fast rescue since they will generally not turn an unconscious person face-up. See the live vest at

Example of Type III

Type IV – Throwable Device

These are designed to be thrown to a person in the water. Throwable devices include boat cushions, ring buoys, and horseshoe buoys. They are not designed to be worn and must be supplemented by wearable PFD. It is important to keep these devices immediately available for emergencies, and they should not be used for small children, non-swimmers, or unconscious people. See the flotation device at

Example of Type IV

Type V – Special Use Device

Special use PFDs include work vests, deck suits, and hybrids for restricted use. Hybrid vests contain some internal buoyancy and are inflatable to provide additional flotation. See the life vest at

Inflatable Life Jackets

Inflatable life jackets rely on inflatable chambers that provide buoyancy when inflated. Uninflated, inflatable life jackets are less bulky than inherently buoyant life jackets. All inflatables contain a backup oral inflation tube (which also serves as the deflation tube).

Most people will use a personal floatation device in a recreational setting only. So types II & III are very common.

Picking a Life Vest

The summer I graduated from high school, I worked at my local YMCA as a lifeguard. I took my job extremely seriously: I was responsible for the life of somebody’s child and it was my job to make sure they were able to swim safely. I would always freak me out when my boss would hire a new lifeguard since I was never sure if my fellow guards quite understood the gravity of our job.

I’m only bringing this up to impress upon you the importance of picking the RIGHT floatation device for each member of your family. I know that when a family is just getting into boating, and spending all that money getting set up with gear, it’s tempting to try to do things on the cheap.

A life jacket is NOT where you want to save money!

Match the Vest To Your Activity

Many water activities have specific life jackets. For example, the vest I wear in my kayak not only has great safety ratings, it is specially designed for woman kayakers.

Size It Correctly

Just like clothes, life jackets come in a variety of sizes. The sizing chart is not only for the chest size and height of the person, but also the weight.

Try It On!

If the life vest is uncomfortable you won’t wear it. You also want to make sure it fits correctly. A properly adjusted life jacket should be snug but still allow the wearer to breathe and have freedom of movement.

If you’ve never purchased a personal floatation device before, I recommend buying your first one from an outdoors store. Have a sales associate (who knows what they’re doing!) help you find a life vest that matches your activity, buoyancy requirements, and body size. The sales associate should also be able to show you how to adjust it for correct fit.

When I bought my kayaking life jacket, I spent about twenty minutes with a very knowledgeable employee who helped me pick the perfect vest.

Kid’s Personal Flotation Devices

While some children weighing between 30 and 50 pounds may like the freedom of movement that a Type III lifejacket provides, most children in this weight range, especially those who cannot swim, should wear a Type I or Type II lifejacket.

Remember that water wings are NOT a flotation device and will not save your child in the case of an emergency.

When To Wear It

Every state has different rules governing personal flotation devices. In my opinion, wearing a life jacket is just like lifeguarding: not something to take lightly. For that reason, I recommend that no matter what, you wear it when you’re on the water.

I am a very good swimmer but I am never without my life jacket when I’m in our family row boat or in my kayak.

Arizona Game & Fish will issue tickets for PFD violations so be sure you know the laws in your state! I’ve looked and looked but I can’t find a list that has each state’s agency listed. I would recommend to contact your state’s department Game & Fish and ask about the boating safety requirements.

For a real, and funny, story of what happens when you don’t wear your life vest, check out this article written by John M of Muddy Feet Gang: Fishing or Swimming?

If you’d like to start your research or ready to buy, I recommend taking a look at Overton’s. They’re a large boating retailer and have lots of personal flotation devices to choose from.

Readers weigh in:

  1. What type of personal flotation device do you wear?
  2. Do you have any stories about where the life jacket helped in an emergency?
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