Expert Answer: About How Long Can a Life Jacket Keep You Afloat?

If you’re ever stuck in a situation where you need a life jacket, you’ll be glad to know that they can actually keep you afloat for quite a long time. Of course, this depends on a number of factors, such as the type of life jacket and the conditions you’re floating in to fully determine how long can a life jacket keep you afloat. But in general, a life jacket can buy you some precious time until help arrives.

In this article I am going to discuss how long a life jacket can keep you afloat and other factors to consider when selecting the right life jacket for your specific purpose. Let’s dive in!

About How Long Can a Life Jacket Keep You Afloat

How long can a life jacket keep you afloat?

Life jackets provide buoyancy to help keep you afloat in the water while waiting for a pick up or rescue. It’s an important piece of personal flotation device (PFD) gear. A life jacket will only keep you afloat if you are wearing it correctly and it’s fitted and adjusted for you. If you are not wearing the correct life jacket for the task the benefits certainly diminish.

The amount of time a life jacket will keep you afloat depends on many factors, including your body size and weight, the type of life jacket, whether you are wearing it properly, the water conditions and whether you are struggling or floating in the water. In general, most adult-size life jackets will keep you afloat for at least 8 hours in calm water conditions.

Life jackets are available in various sizes to accommodate different age groups. You can read also: 10 Best youth life jackets 90 120 lbs: Find your perfect one

If you need a life jacket to keep you afloat in more challenging water conditions (like the open water of the ocean) or for a longer period of time, there are several options available that can provide more buoyancy or that are designed for those specific activities.

For example, there are life jackets available that have extra buoyancy to help keep your head above water even if you are unconscious or wearing heavy clothing. There are also special-use life jackets designed for specific activities such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing, boating, sailing, water skiing, jet skiing and windsurfing.

If you plan to be on the water for an extended period of time or in remote areas, it is always a good idea to pack a spare life jacket just in case yours becomes lost or damaged. Let your family members know where you’ll be and when you should be expected to return.

How to Stay Afloat Without a Life Jacket?

If you find yourself in water without a life jacket or your life jacket has failed or become saturated, there are still things you can do to stay afloat in an emergency situation.

First, try to relax and float on your back while keeping your head above water. You can also try to grab onto something that will float (like a piece of floating debris). Focus on staying afloat and keeping your head above water while you wait for rescue.

If you need to stay warm while waiting in cold water, try treading water or dog paddling so you can keep your arms and legs moving. Generally speaking, you should try to conserve your energy whenever possible.

How to Choose The Right Life Jacket

Most people don’t realize that a life jacket isn’t just a flotation device. It is actually a very important tool that can help keep you safe in the event of an emergency. Here are some tips on how to choose the right life jacket for the task:

  1. Choose the right life jacket based on how it will be used. Your life jacket should be based on the water sport you enjoy and the conditions you will be using it in. There are specific life jackets for open water use, lakes and rivers and even down to the specific water sport like kayak paddling.
  1. Make sure the fit is snug. A life jacket should fit snugly around your body so that it doesn’t shift or move around when you are in the water. It should easily keep your head above the water.
  2. Check for leaks. Before using your life jacket, be sure to check it for any leaks or holes. It’s also a good idea to regularly test it in the water and adjust the straps so it fits well and is ready to use in an emergency
  3. Choose high visibility colors. If you were to become stranded, it’s best to pick a life vest with bright colors that can easily be seen by rescuers. You can also add many useful life jacket accessories like emergency light beacons and whistles to improve the chances of being seen or heard.

There are many different types and sizes of life jackets. It’s important to choose the right one for you, based on your body size, weight and the type of activity you’ll be doing.

Most life jackets have a chest size and weight range printed on the label. To find your size, first weigh yourself. Then measure around the widest part of your chest (under your arms). Look for a life jacket that’s labeled with a chest size that’s close to yours and a weight range that includes your weight.

Once you’ve found a few life jackets that fit both your chest size and weight, try them on to see which one feels the most comfortable. It should fit snugly but not be so tight that it’s uncomfortable or restrictive for movement or breathing. You should be able to move and swim freely in it. It shouldn’t ride up around your chin or face when you move your arms or head around in the water.


Lisa lives on Clear Lake in Northern CA where she enjoys stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and zipping around with her husband Brian on his alumaweld fishing boat. Clear Lake is the largest fresh water lake in CA and hosts world class bass fishing tournaments throughout the season. It's a water lovers paradise, which inspires everyday!

Latest Articles