Having kids wearing life jackets in Minnesota is not only a safe best practice, it's the law. It could also score your kids a free Dairy Queen treat from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Minnesota DNR is once again partnering with Dairy Queen to provide a free DQ treat coupon to anyone under 18 seen by a conservation officers wearing a life jacket while boating. The coupon entitles the child to a free cone from participating Dairy Queen restaurants.

The free treat coupon was the brainchild of a conservation officer after he suggested there should be a reward for kids that were wearing their life jacket. This program isn't just limited to conservation officers, Minnesota county sheriff’s water patrol deputies also have the ability to distribute the free Dairy Queen treat coupon to children.

This cool program runs from May 1st through October 31st every year. I fully support the program, but what about mom and dad?  We buy them the life jackets and tell them to put it on, can't we get a treat too? I think that fair because I don't know about your kids, but mine certainly aren't sharing their ice cream!

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Remember, all kids under age 10 are required by law to wear life jackets. According to the Minnesota DNR, here are important things to check for when buying a child's life jacket:

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved label.
  • A snug fit. Check weight and chest size on the label and try the life jacket on your child right at the store. Pick up your child by the shoulders of the life jacket; and tell them to raise their arms and relax. The child's chin and ears won't slip through a properly fitting jacket. Do NOT buy a jacket that is too large, hoping the child will grow into it. Children come in many sizes and shapes. If a lifejacket style does not work well, try another one.
  • Head support for younger children. A well designed life jacket will support the child's head when the child is in the water. The head support also serves to roll the child face up.
  • A strap between the legs for younger children. This helps prevent the jacket from coming off over the child's head.
  • Selecting a fit for children between 30 and 50 pounds. While some children weighing between 30 and 50 pounds may like the freedom of movement that a Type III life jacket provides, only children that can swim and are comfortable in the water should use a Type III. Most children in this weight range should wear a Type I or Type II life jacket.
  • Comfort and appearance. This is especially important for teens, who are less likely to wear a life jacket.

While it's the law for children under 10 to wear a life jacket, it's really a great idea for kids of all ages to wear them as well as adults.  You can get more information on adult life jackets and more by following the button above.

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