Life jackets can make the difference between an accident and a tragedy. However, this is only true if you find the right-sized life jacket for you. Unlike some things, life jackets are not a one-size-fits-all item. You need to find one that fits you properly if you want it to work as it should.
Here we show you how to find the right size life jacket for you and members of your family:
Step 1: Find the Right Type
As we said, there is no one-size-fits-all life jacket. This applies to the actual size of the life jacket, but it also applies to the type. There are four main types of life jackets. So, before you find your size, you have to find the right type for your activity. They are as follows:
Type I PFD – Off-Shore Life Jacket: Good for all types of water. It has extra buoyancy that is especially helpful where rescue may be delayed (think remote locations).
Type II PFD – Near-Shore Buoyancy Vest: Best for calm waters near the shore. If the wearer is unconscious, it will turn the individual right side up.
Type III PFD – Flotation Aid: Designed for individuals who can swim and where rescue is quick.
Type IV PFD – Throwable Device: Meant to be thrown to an individual stranded in the water. It is suited for inland waters with lots of boats, where rescue would be immediate.
Step 2: Adult or Child?
Now that you have the right type of life jacket, it’s time to get the right size. The method for proper sizing is different for adults than it is for children.
Adults’ life jackets are sized based on their chest size. To do so, grab a measuring tape and wrap it around your chest at the broadest point.
Children’s life jackets are sized based on their weight. Have your child wear their swimming gear (or whatever they would wear with the life jacket) and weigh them on a scale.
Step 3: Fitting
When measuring your chest or weighing your child, the number you receive will be the number you use to find the right size life jacket. Manufacturers provide size recommendations based on your chest size or weight. So, simply find your number and the corresponding size the manufacturer recommends.
However, it’s always best to try on a life jacket before buying it. Here is what you should look out for when going in for a fitting:
- If there are big gaps in the shoulders, the life jacket is too big.
- When in the water, a life jacket should keep your mouth above water. If the water is around your nose or mouth, it is not the right size.
- For kids, have them raise their arms above their head while wearing the life jacket. If it rises too much, it’s too big.