It is your duty as a captain to provide well-fitting lifejackets to all passengers on your ships, even if it is man-powered. Are you and a mate off for a slow row in your canoe? Two life jackets are required. Giving your family on a tour of the harbour? Make sure that each passenger has a proper PFD and that you are all properly strapped in. Going fishing by yourself? Make sure you're wearing your lifejacket!
A boater's life jacket, also known as a PFD, is a significant piece of Personal Safety Equipment. Let's take a closer look at one of the most critical pieces of safety equipment that a boater may have when enjoying recreational boating.
Types of Life Jackets
Life jackets come in two styles: ‘Standard' and ‘Small Vessel,' and they come in both youth and adult sizes. They come in red, orange, or yellow, have a keyhole or vest style, and are usually bulkier and less comfortable than PFDs. Life jackets are designed to transform an unconscious person face up in the water and are manufactured with enhanced flotation in the front of the jacket. There are many types of life jackets available:
SOLAS (Standard Operating Procedures for (Safety of Life At Sea) Life jackets: These are the most effective and can quickly turn an unconscious person face up and out of the water.
Standard life jackets have a lot of buoyancy and can transform an unconscious person face up and out of the water, but they're usually uncomfortable.
Small Vessel Life Jackets: These are often intended to turn an unconscious person face up, but they are less buoyant and turn less well.
Life jackets should be worn slightly loosely to enable water to pass through the front of the jacket to allow it to work properly. To ensure a proper fit, change all zippers, fasteners, buckles, and straps. Although both life jackets and PFDs are available, life jackets provide a higher degree of protection.
DEVICES FOR PERSONAL FLOTATION
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are less restrictive and more comfortable to wear than life jackets. PFDs are intended to hold a person afloat, not to turn an unconscious person upside down in the water.
PFDs are available in keyhole, jumper, suit, and coverall styles. There are sizes for infants, teenagers, and adults, and the product should be fitted to the size of the person wearing it. PFDs should be snug but not restricting in terms of arm and leg movement.
PFDs that inflate
A carbon dioxide cartridge is used to inflate best inflatable life vest for fishing. The PFD will hold an individual afloat once it is inflated. They are very easy and lightweight to carry, and they come in a variety of types, such as waist pouches, vests, and others that automatically inflate, as opposed to more simple styles that require manual inflation.
INFLATABLE PFDS REGULATIONS
- Only people 16 and up who weigh more than 36 kilogrammes are allowed to use it.
- When on deck or in the cockpit of an open sea, it must be worn at all times.
- On boats with cabins, it must be readily accessible to those who are below deck.
- Not for use on personal watercraft or when engaging in white-water events.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIFE JACKET AND A PFD?
Consider the following considerations when selecting a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD): Check the sticker or stamp to see if the flotation device is authorised by the Coast Guard, Transport Canada, or Fisheries and Oceans.
Check that the life jacket or PFD you're wearing is the right size and weight for you (if a boater falls overboard when wearing a PFD that is too small, it may not support the weight of that person)
Check that it is snug but comfortable to wear, with plenty of room for movement.
If you're buying a life jacket or PFD for someone else, make sure it'll suit them.
Other boaters can find it difficult to see you if you are in a smaller, open boat (such as a small fishing boat). Choosing a brightly coloured flotation device will help you stand out from the crowd.
SELECTING A CHILD'S LIFE JACKET OR PFD
Many life jackets, despite being approved for use, cannot adequately protect a child. To ensure their protection, select a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) that has been specifically developed for children.
The following should be included in a child's life jacket or PFD:
- A sticker or stamp stating that it has been authorised by Transport Canada.
- An extra-large collar to keep the child's head supported.
- A safety band that secures the jacket between the legs to keep it from falling over the child's head.
- On the collar, there is a grab strap.
- Stuff that reflects light and a safety whistle
Children should be encouraged to wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) at all times, both on and off the boat. Make sure your kids know how to put on and use their life jackets or PFDs, and never let a flotation device take the place of adult supervision.
The child's life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) should always be properly fitted. Never attempt to improvise with a flotation device, and never buy a larger model in the expectation that the child can outgrow it.
LIFE JACKETS AND PFDS ARE BEING TESTED
At the start of each season, and on a regular basis during the season, life jackets and PFDs should be screened for buoyancy. Even if they're brand-new!
How to put a flotation system to the test:
Step 1: Put on the life jacket and secure it properly.
Step 2: Submerge yourself in chest-deep water.
Step 3) Float onto your back by bending your knees.
Phase 4) Check that your life jacket keeps your chin above water and helps you to breathe easily.
Step 5) Get up and reach above your head; if the vest reaches your nose, it's probably too high.
Children can also check the fit and buoyancy of their life jackets or PFDs. In a safe environment, have your child adopt the same protocols under parental supervision.
LIFE JACKETS AND PFDS MAINTENANCE
PFDs and life jackets are built to save lives. However, you must take care of your own in order for them to do theirs. It is the duty of each boater to maintain and care for his or her flotation device on a regular basis. Here are some pointers:
They can never be used as cushions, bumpers, or fenders because they will be damaged and less reliable.
- They should be air-dried away from a direct heat source and out of direct sunlight.
- When not in use, they should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area aboard your boat.
- Keep them in a secure, easily accessible location away from fuel and chemicals.
- Check your life jackets and PFDs on a regular basis; if they are torn or broken, they should be replaced right away.
Note that inflatable PFDs need more technology, which means they must be maintained more regularly than other forms of life jackets and PFDs (the owner's manual will give you all the specifics you need).
Consider the following while washing your life jacket or PFD:
Use water and gentle soap.
Dry cleaning, heavy detergents, oil, or chemicals/solvents can never be used.
Air dry away from direct heat sources and out of direct sunlight.
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