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How Do You Test Your PFD?

Inherently Buoyant PFDs:

Put your life jacket on. It should fit properly with all zippers, straps, ties and snaps correctly secured. Ease yourself into the water or walk into water up to your neck. Lift your legs and tilt your head back, in a relaxed floating position. Your mouth should be out of the water and you should float comfortably without any physical effort.

If the life jacket rides up, try securing it tighter to your body. If it still rides up, you may need a different style. You should be comfortable and able to swim without significant restriction. You should have someone else to act as a lifeguard or assistant if you are uncomfortable with being in the water or are trying this activity for the first time.

Inflatable PFDs:

If you do not wish to test the CO2 inflation system, remove the CO2 cylinder (and if the PFD has an automatic feature, remove the water-sensing element). Put your life jacket on and fully inflate it. Then test it like an inherently buoyant PFD.

Because of the design, ride-up is generally not an issue with inflatable PFDs. The amount of buoyancy provided with inflatable PFDs will probably require the user to swim using some form of side or backstroke, as it will be difficult to swim on your stomach when the PFD is properly secured.

Related Articles:
Inflatable Lifejackets

What kind of PFD do I need?
How to Read PFD labels
Care and maintenance of PFDs

BoatSafeKids: How do life jackets work?
Why are life jackets orange?
Do I have to wear my PFD?

 

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