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What is a PFD?

A personal floatation device, or PFD, is any device used to help a person stay afloat in water. It is, at its most basic use, a safety tool to assist those who may be facing challenging water conditions or who may not be adept swimmers. It can also be referred to as a life jacket, life preserver, life vest, life belt, and more. If you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation involving bodies of water, it is best to err on the side of caution and wear a PFD! Safety comes first when thinking about participation in any swimming or water activity.

When would I use a PFD?

Personal floatation devices are most commonly used in situations where one might encounter deep waters, or waters that require treading and swimming. You might typically wear a PFD on a watercraft, boat, or raft, but they can also be used for people of all ages in pools, lakes, and rivers. Planes that fly over bodies of water are also required to have PFDs on board in the case of a crash.

How do I choose a PFD?

There are several types of personal floatation devices available for different circumstances, and it is important that you make yourself aware of the various options. The most basic differentiation between PFDs is regarding the need for inflation. Standard personal floatation devices do not require the person to inflate the vest or jacket, while inflatable personal floatation devices require either manual or automatic inflation.

When selecting a personal floatation device, ensure that it fits snugly against your person and has the ability to tighten and loosen comfortably. An important note here is the distinction between adult and children’s PFDs. As an adult, you should take current and accurate body measurements – specifically on your chest – when picking a PFD. Your weight will not be the determining factor in the size you select! However, when fitting children, you should use their weight rather than chest measurement. If you are trying on a PFD, it is recommended that you wear clothes you are likely to swim in in order to have the best and most accurate idea of the fit. If you are planning to do a specific activity with your PFD, take an extra moment to make sure your motion is not impeded, especially with swimming.

At the end of the day, always make sure you have taken the correct safety measures.

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