Chapter 2: Boating Safety

Testing your PFD

Ensuring that every passenger's personal flotation device is the right size is as important as remembering to bring enough PFDs for everyone. For a flotation device to work as intended, it must be appropriately sized.

When trying a personal flotation device on, be sure that it fits snugly and stays in position even when floating in the water. If a PFD cannot fit snuggly around one's body, even after tightening the straps, then it is too large.

It is best to test the device in shallow water before taking it out. To test whether the device can fully support the wearer's weight, have them get into shallow water and curl up, bringing their knees up to their chest, until fully floating. If the PFD supports them fully, and doesn't shift, then it is the right size.

Testing Your PFD

If operating a vessel, it is one's responsibility to ensure that all passengers have PFDs which are the right size. Teach passengers how to correctly put on their PFD and test their PFDs, in shallow water, before heading out to verify their buoyancy and fit. Basically, always refer to the label when selecting the size of PFD, and always test the fit before heading out.

Finally, for a PFD to be useful, it must be worn or within reach. This applies for both throwable and wearable PFDs. It is always best to wear PFD at all times, but failing that it needs to be in a place which is immediately accessible. Similarly, throwable PFDs are most useful if quickly accessible and previously tested, in shallow water, to ensure reliability.