When you think «summer», you think «nautical activities». In order to enjoy yourselves securely, wearing a life jacket is recommended, and sometimes obligatory for certain water-related activities.
Let’s help you choose the best option for you and for family, in 5 simple steps:
1) Determine your needs:
Do you swim at your chalet once per summer, or are you a personal watercraft enthusiast who sets out to the water every day? Your needs in terms of flotation devices may differ. That being said, your safety and comfort should not be neglected, no matter what you need a life jacket for.
2) Life jackets vs. Personal Flotation Device (PFD):
When worn properly, a Canadian certified life jacket is designed to turn an unconscious person in the water from a ventral to dorsal position, allowing him/her to breathe. A standard life jacket comes in the shape of a keyhole, and is available in two sizes: an «adult» size for persons weighing more than 40 kg (90 lb) and a «child» size designed for those weighing less than 40 kg (90 lb). Standard life jackets are usually orange, yellow or red and have a whistle attached to them.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD):
Canadian certified PFDs are designed to keep heads floating above water level, and are meant for pleasure crafting. As a general rule, they are smaller, less cumbersome and more comfortable than life jackets. They provide less buoyancy than life jackets and have limited self-healing capability, but are available in a variety of styles and colours.
3) Choosing a vest, depending on your weight:
Here are the guidelines to follow, in full security:
- Newborn : 9kg or 20 lb (9 to 12 months)
- Child : Less than 40 kg or 90 lb
- Adult : More than 40 kg or 90 lb
After choosing the adequate size, every swimmer should be familiar with the proper techniques to put on a life jacket or PFD, while submersed in water:
- Open the garment so that its interior is out of the water;
- Turn the garment around, so that you are facing the collar;
- Place your arms in the designated area;
- Lift your arms above your head and place the garment on your body;
- Attach the garment securely.
4) Express security :
Keep in mind that a life jacket or PFD cannot replace the proper surveillance of an adult.
- Use the flotation device as directed.
- Make sure your flotation garment is properly adjusted to you; too big and you risk losing it. too little and you risk it not properly supporting you.
- Keep at least two extra flotation devices on deck before embarking on a nautical adventure.
- Make sure that your flotation device has been approved by one of the following:
– Transport Canada
– Canadian Coast Guard
– Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Inspect your flotation device every year for damages. If it is damaged, it will lose its certification and you will need to replace it.
- Maintenance: Wash it with a soft soap and fresh, clean water only. No strong detergent or stain-removers. Let it air-dry, never in the sun or the dryer.
- Store your flotation device in a dry area when it is not being used.
5) A statistic to think about…
Set an example for your children and guests by wearing a flotation device. Make sure it is as comfortable as possible and well-adjusted to your weight. Do not underestimate the dangers that come with water-related activities.
While the law does not oblige you to wear one, common sense is that when in or near the water, the safety of you and your loved ones is priceless and accidents are quick to occur. Nine out of ten people who have drowned during boating accidents were either not wearing a flotation device, or were wearing one incorrectly. Do not become another statistic: protect yourself and your loved ones.