When should you replace a life jacket? Here's what the Coast Guard recommends

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Many Alaskans have tattered, weather-beaten life jackets in their closest. Newsflash: It's time to replace them.

Channel 2 spoke with two members of the Coast Guard Friday about proper boating behavior, life jackets and remembering to be nice while having a good time out on the water.

Here are a few takeaways:

You can pass along life jackets to younger siblings, but first ensure the buttons, zippers and reflective tape are still good. If the life jacket looks bad, go ahead and throw it away.

Only buy life jackets that have tags saying they're approved by the Coast Guard.

Remember to be cool. It's usually the other boaters who will arrive first to help in a crisis.

"Usually the quickest people to respond to any sort of emergency are other boaters," Lt. (j.g.) Scott Peters said. "So the person that you just passed, and lets say you didn't treat them with respect, they might be the ones that are coming to get you, so you want to be very cordial with everybody."

Also, even if you're a strong swimmer, you're no match for a cold Alaskan lake, pond or the ocean.

"You only have so much time before your arms and your legs shut down and stop working as the hypothermia starts to set in," Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn said, "so even the most experienced swimmers in the world should wear a life jacket when they're boating in cold waters like they are here in Alaska."

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