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Safety

Personal flotation devices (PFDs) and lifejackets come in many shapes, colours and materials. Some are made rugged to last longer while others are made to maintain body heat in cold water. No matter which PFD you choose, get one that is right for you, your planned activities and the water conditions you anticipate. Spend a little time now to choose and become familiar with the particular features of your PFD. It could save your life later.

Always look for a label stating that the PFD has been approved by Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada or any combination thereof before you purchase and make sure you understand the regulations and requirements of using PFDs. Also ensure you properly maintain whatever PFD or lifejacket you choose.

 

Which Lifejacket is right for you?

         Use           Advantages

Safety of Life at Sea
(SOLAS) Lifejacket

Inherent and Inflatable Type Lifejacket

RED, ORANGE OR YELLOW

Off-Shore
Open or Rough Waters
Coastal Cruising
General Boating

Best for all waters

Will turn unconscious wearers face up

Available in two sizes (wearer over or under 32 kg)

Standard Type Lifejacket

Inherently Buoyant  Lifejacket

RED, ORANGE OR YELLOW

 

Inland waters or calm waters where fast rescue is likely

Will turn unconscious wearers face up

Available in two sizes (wearer over or under 40 kg)

Comfortable

Small Vessel Lifejacket

Inherent and Inflatable Type Lifejacket

RED, ORANGE OR YELLOW

Inland waters or calm waters where fast rescue is likely

Less flotation than Standard Type Lifejacket

Will turn wearer face up, but slowly

Keyhole or vest models

Available in three sizes

 - Adult (over 40 kg)

 - Youth (18 to 40 kg)

 - Child (under 18 kg)

PFD

Inherent and Inflatable Type

MANY COLOURS

Three or more chest belts recommended for high speed activities 

 

Least flotation

Limited turning capability

Generally the most comfort for continuous wear

Many styles available

Some designs targeted for specific use

Children's Lifejackets

All lifejackets are clearly labeled with the appropriate weight range for the product. Check the label to match the weight range of your child. To check for a good fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the lifejacket. If the lifejacket fits, the child's chin and ears will not slip through. You should look for the following safety features in your child’s lifejacket:   large collar for head support, waist ties/gathers in front and back, a safety strap that goes between the legs to prevent the device from slipping over your child’s head, buckles on safety straps and reflective tape.   You may also want to attach a non-metallic pealess whistle to the lifejacket.  Also you should note that children’s lifejackets must be inherently buoyant (ie. not inflatable).   Children come in many sizes and shapes.   If a particular lifejacket style does not work well, try another one.

Types of Jackets

SOLAS Lifejacket
This Lifejacket is designed for extended survival in rough, open water. It will turn an unconscious person face up. This is the best Lifejacket to keep you afloat in remote regions where rescue may be slow in coming.
Standard Type Lifejacket
This "classic" Lifejacket comes in several sizes for adults and children and is for calm inland water where there is chance of fast rescue. It is less bulky and less expensive than a SOLAS and will turn an unconscious person face-up in the water.
Small Vessel Lifejacket
These Lifejackets are for use in calm water where there is good chance of fast rescue since they will turn an unconscious person face-up, but will do so slowly. They are available in three sizes and two styles (keyhole or vest), and provide less flotation that Standard Type Lifejackets.   
Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
PFD's are generally considered the most comfortable, with styles for different boating activities and sports. They are for use in calm water where there is good chance of fast rescue since they will generally not turn an unconscious person face-up. Flotation aids come in many sizes, colours and styles.
Throwable Device
These are designed to be thrown to a person in the water. On most small craft, buoyant heaving lines at least 15m in length are necessary equipment.   Other throwable devices include lifebuoys (at least 61cm in diameter). They are not designed to be worn and must be supplemented by wearable Lifejacket or PFD. It is important to keep these devices immediately available for emergencies, and they should not be used for small children, non-swimmers, or unconscious people.