Children's lifejackets

From 1 January 2025 lifejackets that meet older Australian Standards AS 1512, AS 1499 and AS 2260 will no longer be acceptable in South Australia.

All children should wear a lifejacket, when they are in any open area of a vessel. During an incident you may not have the opportunity to help children.

It should not be worn when a child is within a deck-house, cabin or secure enclosed space as it could stop them making a safe exit.

A lifejacket must be securely zipped and clipped at all times to be effective. If not appropriately fitted, a child may slip out of the lifejacket when in the water, or maybe forced into a dangerous face-down position when in the water.

Choosing a child's lifejacket

  • If you’re not sure which lifejacket level your child needs, answer some quick questions to know before you go.
  • Do not compromise on quality.
  • It should be appropriate for your child's weight, fit them securely and not move around in any way that may impair its performance.
  • A crotch strap fitting will prevent the jacket from bunching up around the child's neck and will prevent your child falling out of the bottom.
  • Choose a lifejacket level 100 or above that complies with the requirements for all waters and will support your child in a face-up position if in the water in calm water conditions.
  • Children who are 12 years old or younger or who weigh less than 40 kg can now wear automatically inflatable lifejackets. These lifejackets are designed to inflate automatically when coming into contact with water. The lifejacket must:
    • Be clearly labelled to inflate automatically.
    • Have a pull cord (serves as a backup).
    • Be serviced regularly in line with the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Be the correct size and properly fitted.
  • Remember that a lifejacket level 50 or 50S may not roll your child into a face-up position in calm water conditions should they be unconscious.
  • Match the weight range of the lifejacket with the weight of your child.
  • Check that the lifejacket complies with the appropriate standard for the type of lifejacket being used.
  • Find out about the lifejacket wear requirements on boats up to 12 metres in length including circumstances of heightened risk.

It is extremely important that a lifejacket is fitted correctly, as per the examples provided below.

This lifejacket is the correct size
Personal flotation device that is the correct fit and is proportionate to the wearer’s body size.

The weight rating of 22-40 kg is appropriate for the child's weight of 24 kg, and the size appears to be proportionate to the child's body size.

This lifejacket is too bigPersonal flotation device that is too big for the child wearing it. It is too loose and may come off if they fell into water.

If a child fell into the water they would probably fall straight through the bottom of this lifejacket.

This lifejacket is too smallPersonal flotation device that is too small for the person wearing it. The fastenings can't reach across the wearer's body to secure it.

The child's weight may exceed the weight rating and if the child fell into the water it may not keep them afloat.

This lifejacket is too big
 Personal flotation device that is too big for the wearer, the collar has too much floatation and would possibly stop the child wearer  from floating face up.

Even if the child didn't fall through the large fittings, it may be too bulky to keep the child afloat face up and out of the water.

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Page last updated 1 June 2022

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