Any individual on a watercraft is required by law to wear a lifejacket or PFD (Personal Flotation Device). This involves crafts that are propelled by humans.
Your only protection against cold-water shock is a lifejacket. Unexpected immersion in cold water poses a significant risk of death if a boater is not wearing a flotation device, according to research. This is valid regardless of the boater’s experience, proximity to the shore, or swimming capacity.
Breathing, nerves, and muscle power can all be severely harmed by a sudden plunge into cold water. A lifejacket protects you from the elements while still keeping you afloat.
The majority of recreational boaters who drown on the water in Canada each year are not wearing or are not wearing flotation devices properly.
Selecting a Life Jacket
Lifejackets float better in the water than other PFDs. Only red, orange, and yellow lifejackets are available, making you more visible in the water.
There are three forms that have been authorized:
1. SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) lifejackets are approved for all vessels and meet very high-performance requirements. They are:
Even if you are unconscious, turn you on your back in seconds to keep your face out of the water.
Comfortable and lightweight inflatable styles that can be inflated automatically, manually, or orally are available in two sizes — over 32 kg (70 lbs.) or less than 32 kg.
2. All vessels, except SOLAS vessels, are permitted to use Standard Type lifejackets. They are:
And if you’re asleep, turn on your back to keep your face out of the water. They come in two sizes: over 40 kg (88 lbs.) and less than 40 kg.
3. Lifejackets for small vessels have been authorized. They have less flotation than Standard Type lifejackets turn you on your back more slowly than Standard Type lifejackets come in two models — keyhole and vest.
Wear a Life Jacket has more detail about how to choose a life jacket.
Choosing a Flotation Device for You (PFD)
PFDs are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors. Not all are red, orange, or yellow, but choosing these colors to be more noticeable in water is a smart idea.
Choose a PFD that meets your needs and is appropriate for your operation. If you’re going far, look for a PFD with three or more chest belts for added protection.
Choose a PFD with thermal insulation if you’ll be working in cold water (less than 15°C).
There are advantages and disadvantages of using a PFD instead of a lifejacket.
It may be more convenient because it is built for long-term use, is smaller, and less cumbersome, and may be tailored to particular sports.
If inflatable, it must be used and managed properly in order to function. It typically provides less flotation than a lifejacket and has little capacity to turn you in the water. It often provides less thermal protection than a lifejacket.
Check which boating activities an inflatable PFD is licensed for under the Small Vessel Regulations before purchasing one. Inflatable PFDs are forbidden in the following situations:
- People under the age of 16 or weighing less than 36.3 kg (80 lbs.)
- Personal watercraft operators
There are two types of inflatable PFDs:
Automatically inflating vests, as well as those that are inflated orally or manually with a CO2 device, are available.
Orally inflated pouches can be manually inflated by pulling a toggle to enable CO2 inflation.
Although the inflation period is limited, it will be difficult for a slow swimmer. In the event that the CO2 inflation mechanism fails, all Canadian-approved inflatable PFDs have an oral inflation tube. Using this tube if you’re having trouble staying afloat might be difficult.
An emergency is not the time to try out a new gadget. Carefully read the PFD’s instruction manual. Under the guidance and before going out, try the system on to make sure you know how to use it.
A lifejacket or PFD is no substitute for adult supervision. At all times, children should be within arm’s reach and wearing a proper flotation device. Fast tips on keeping your child safe on the water can be found in this video. Always try to look for the best inflatable life vest for fishing to avoid unfavorable conditions.
It should fit snugly and not ride up over your child’s chin or ears.
The distance between your child’s shoulders and the screen should be less than 7.6 cm (3″). Otherwise, the system is excessively large and can do more damage than good.
Keep an eye out for the following safety features:
Big collar for head protection waist ties or elastic gathers in front and back a safety strap that runs between the legs to keep the system from falling over your child’s head buckles on safety belts and reflective tape
Consider using a non-metallic pea-free whistle to stick to the device.
Parents who want their children to wear life jackets should lead by example by wearing one themselves.
Flotation system maintenance and usage
Take good care of your flotation system and treat it as an investment. Devices that are torn or in bad repair will not be accepted.
Never kneel on, sit on, or use lifesaving equipment as a fender for your boat. Follow these guidelines:
Wading out to waist-deep water and bending your knees to see how well you float is a good way to check its buoyancy on a regular basis.
Make sure the belts, buckles, and zippers are clean and functional.
Pull-on the belts to make sure they’re securely fastened and show no signs of wear.
Stop direct heat sources and dry your system in the open air.
It should be kept in a dry, well-ventilated, and easily accessible place.
Dry cleaning is not recommended. To scrub, use a gentle soap and running water.
If you don’t wear it, it won’t fit.
Lifesaving equipment must be worn at all times in order to function.
It’s risky to assume that you’ll be able to locate, put on, and secure your PFD while in the water:
Wind and wave conditions will make this incredibly difficult or impossible. You could slip into the water suddenly, rendering your boat and PFD unreachable.
In the sea, cold water will make it difficult to put on and fasten a PFD.
Never underestimate the amount of safety a flotation device can provide. There’s a reason it’s called lifesaving gear.
Flotation systems for hunters and anglers
Many sports hunters and anglers who die in boating accidents each year are not wearing or are not wearing flotation devices properly. The majority of the time, lifejackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) were on board.
For hunters and anglers, certain flotation devices are made especially for them.
These models have more space in the weapons to permit aiming for hunters or casting for fly fishers. Some of them are camouflaged. Others have pockets where you can keep your gear and accessories. Inflatable models are light, comfortable, and less bulky.
Keep in mind that regardless of the design, you must still wear your flotation device.
Note: Red, orange, and yellow are the best colors for visibility. Wearing these colors will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
Paddleboarders may use a variety of PFDs, including low-profile vests and waist-pack inflatables.
Note that leashes cannot be used in place of lifejackets or PFDs under the Substitute Safety Equipment provisions of Section 4 of the Small Vessel Regulations. For some types of boats, they only accommodate like-to-like exemptions, such as high-buoyancy PFDs instead of small vessel lifejackets.