Does your Life Jacket Fit right?
Who doesn't enjoy a day on the lake, waking up early to go fishing or even just waking up having a lazy summer day in the sun? An important part of that care-free mindset, we think, is knowing that your friends and family are safe because you've done your homework.
You may be aware that drowning is the biggest risk associated with water sports, but did you know that almost 85% of drowning fatalities happen to those not wearing life jackets (aka Personal Floatation Devices or PFDs)?
We're big on making sure we do boating the right way, and the way we like to stay safe around the water is life jackets. For the following article, we're talking specifically about flotation aid "type III" life jackets. These are the jackets most commonly sold at stores for recreational boating and suited to use in inland or otherwise calm waters.
Answering the Question of How a Life Jacket Should Fit
Chest size is the primary measurement used in life jacket sizing. Once you've identified the right fit for your chest size, the adjustable straps will help secure it and ensure a tight fit.
To make sure you are wearing your life jacket in the safest manner, it is important that when you zip or clip the life jacket closed, it stretches tightly over your torso. This is important because, to provide proper flotation, your life jacket needs to fit as close to your body as possible.
All latches and buckles need to be tightly fastened across the chest and stomach. In the case of people whose stomach sticks out further than their chest, there is a question how a life jacket should fit in order to keep it tight. For this body type we recommend a style of life jacket that has straps in the shoulder and chest area in order to keep it nice and snug with your chest, so as to prevent it from sliding up.
For safety's sake, your primary concerns should be making sure you're using appropriate life jacket sizing and making sure that the flotation aid is secure enough that it's impossible to wriggle out of in any way.
Now that you know how to wear a type III life jacket correctly, it's important to test it out. All you've got do is find some shallow water, relax your body, and tilt your head back. Check for the following:
1) Is your life jacket staying put (not riding up your torso)?
2) Does it keep your chin above the water?
3) Can you breathe easily?
If you can answer yes to all of these, you've got an effective, safe life jacket.
Once you've made sure you're totally safe and taken every precaution, all you need to worry about is getting out on the water and having fun!
Here's some great advice from our friends at West Marine that may help you identify which type of life jacket is right for you!