How to Choose a Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
A Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is one of the best ways to stay safe when boating, water skiing, and fishing this summer. There are a wide variety of designs and floatation materials in PFDs.
There are two types of PFDs available:
Foam PFDs are a reliable choice for both non-swimmers and swimmers alike. However, they can feel bulky to wear.
Inflatable PFDs are the easiest and slimmest to wear but need to be inflated before they provide flotation. Inflatable PFDs produce a high level of floatation and are great for continuous wear and provide a high level of floatation but are not recommended for active watersport activities or children under 16 years of age. Some inflatable PFDs have an automatic trigger that will inflate when the vest is in contact with water, and others will require a manual release from the user to inflate. This type of PFD is recommended for swimmers only.
For a proper PFD fit, always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Adult life jackets will indicate a chest size and for children a weight indication will determine size. Sizes vary by brand and model, so whatever your body type or size you’ll be able to find one that fits.
It is very important to try on the PFD for comfort and a good fit. Make sure to loosen all the straps before you snap the buckles. With all closures snapped shut adjust the straps for the best fit. If you can’t get the closures done up with straps loose, the PFD is too small.
To check the fit of a PFD when it’s in place and adjusted, place your thumbs under the shoulder straps. If you can life it above your ears, it’s either not adjusted properly or too big. Re-adjust and try again to choose another PFD. A snug fit is essential for children’s PFDs. They also have a crotch strap and head support that prevents the vest from riding up over the child’s head. Children grow constantly so PFDs must be continually checked for necessary adjustments and proper fit.
A snug fit is essential for children’s PFDs. They also have a crotch strap and head support that prevents the vest from riding up over the child’s head. Children grow constantly so PFDs must be continually checked for necessary adjustments and proper fit.
Comfort is also essential to PFDs. They should fit snuggly, but not bind or chafe. If you’re wearing a PFD for canoeing or kayaking, make sure you have a full range of motion.