There are all kinds of lifejackets. Which ones to choose? Which ones are the best?
Your choice depends on a variety of factors, including your type of activity and the temperature of the water. Let’s say that motorcyclists prefer to wear the so-called personal flotation device or PFD. It is more comfortable than the traditional lifejacket and there are many models and technologies such as marine textiles that may be particularly suitable for your sailing style. Invest in a model whose fabric and buckles are sturdy and whose collar is bulky and comfortable is well worth it. It will be a bit more expensive than a simpler model, but you will gain in comfort when you sail. In Canada, you need to know the difference between approved lifejackets and approved personal flotation devices (PFDs).
Choose your personal flotation device according to your needs and your water activities. If you are boating when the water is cold (less than 15 ° C), get a PFD that provides thermal protection. Fishing enthusiasts can choose a camouflage PFD with storage pockets for various fishing tackle. For high performance enthusiasts, these will be impact resistant models with multiple belts and good protection for the neck and torso. For the beginning and the end of the season, we must consider sleeveless floating suits that protect the lower body or a complete jacket with sleeves. To protect you from very cold temperatures, there are floating suits that cover you from head to toe. Do not wait for an emergency to try a new flotation device. Your new flotation device is sold with a user booklet. Take the time to read it. Then, before leaving on the water, test in a controlled environment to be sure you know how to use it. Put on your PFD and make sure it fits snugly, get into the water up to mid-chest, slowly raise your legs by bending your knees and move slightly. You will have an idea of your freedom of movement and how you react. Do the same exercise but this time trying to put on and buckle once in the water. You will find that it is not easy and you will understand why it is better to wear it when you go on deck or when you are sailing.
Inflatable lifejackets are more and more adopted by motorized browsers and for good reason! They are light and not bulky until they are activated. For this, simply pull on the trigger tab for manual models (self-trigger models also exist) to enjoy all the benefits of a conventional vest. Auto-release models inflate as soon as you fall into the water. An inflatable vest must be worn when you are on board to be considered legal. Inflatable vests cannot be used by anyone under 16 years of age. To learn more about inflatable lifejackets, click here.
Conscientious skippers require their crew members to wear a personal flotation device at all times on the deck, especially when sailing away from the ground and at night.
When not in use, lifejackets and personal flotation devices should be stored in a dry, ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Take care of your PFDs and inflatable lifejackets to keep them in good condition (and legal!).