Tips for Choosing a PFD

You might spend a lot of time caring for your boat’s engine or picking out the best navigational system or fish finder that you can find. But when it comes to the most important piece of boating equipment—a lifejacket—most boaters rarely give it much thought.

Too often, boaters will just grab anything that floats and meets basic safety requirements, and then stow it away. Choosing a good PFD (personal floatation device) should be your top priority. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that more than 80 percent of boaters who drown are not wearing life jackets. Half of those accidents happen in calm waters to victims who can swim.

Maybe you’ve avoided wearing a PFD because you thought it was too uncomfortable or looked silly. But new PFD designs and technology have made life jackets so comfortable, and even stylish, that there’s no excuse not to wear one.

For your PFD to work properly, it has to be the right match for you. Here are a few tips for picking out and wearing a life jacket:

  • Only use a life jacket that is Coast Guard-approved.
  • Review the manufacturer’s label to make sure it is a proper fit for you.
  • Find a jacket that’s appropriate for your activity.
  • Check that your jacket is properly fastened and doesn’t ride up over your chin or face.
  • Make sure children are wearing properly-fitted, child-sized life jackets.