Swim Safely: Wear a Life Jacket


With warming weather, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) reminds you about the importance of wearing a lifejacket when recreating in and around California’s waterways.

Life Jackets in and Around Water

Regardless of swimming ability, all individuals should wear lifejackets while the boat is underway. Through the California Division of Boating and Waterways, Californians can learn about general water safety, life jackets and cold-water readiness.

Although life jackets are strongly recommended when recreating in or near waterways, this year’s expected high runoff in rivers can be dangerous even with the use of life jackets. Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming.

California Life Jacket Loaner Program

California provides life jacket loaners to the public for short-term use during the warmer months to be safe on the water. Visit the Life Jacket Loaner website to find a loan station near you!

Find the Right Fit

Finding the right fit will help keep you safe. Wearing the incorrect sizes life jacket will not provide the appropriate level of protection for you or your family.

  • Correctly sized life jackets will help keep your head above the water.
  • If it’s too big, the life jacket will ride up around your face.
  • If it’s too small, it will not be able to keep your body afloat.
  • Life jackets designed for adults will not work for children!

Try it on for size!

Check the manufacturer’s label and follow these steps to ensure that the life jacket is a proper fit for your size and weight.

  • Make sure the jacket is properly fastened.
  • Hold your arms straight up over your head.
  • Ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up.
  • Make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the jacket does not ride up over your chin or face.
  • For the best fit, try the life jacket in shallow water under safe and supervised conditions.

Find more water safety resource!

Cold Water Safety

Road Conditions

California State Parks

California National Forests