Personal Floatation Devices

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The law requires boats to be equipped with a properly fitting Canadian-approved PFD or lifejacket for each person on board (except any infant who weighs less than 9 kg or any person whose chest size exceeds 140 cm).

To determine whether a floatation device is approved, check the label for the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans or Department of Transport approval. Lifejackets must have a label indicating that they have been approved by the Department of Transport, Canada. Flotation devices approved by the US Coast Guard are not recognized on Canadian Vessels as part of the required safety equipment. Fines for non-compliance start at $200 for each violation.

PFD's should be:

  • Snug fitting but allowing freedom of movement of arms and legs
  • Appropriate to the size of the person (adult sizing for adults and child sizing for children)
  • Appropriate for the type of waterway activity (do not take a kayak vest fishing)
  • Bright in colour to achieve maximum visibility in the water

It is also recommended that PFD's are fitted with a whistle (or sound signalling device of sorts) and a water activated light to assist in rescue procedures, should the worst-case scenario occur.

To put on a PFD in the water, follow these procedures:

  • Spread the device open with the inside facing up out of the water
  • Rotate the PFD so you are looking at the neck opening
  • Put both arms through the arm holes
  • Lift arms over the head
  • Position the device around your upper body
  • Fasten the device to fit snugly

PFD's should be tested regularly to ensure correct and sufficient buoyancy. To do so, wade out into chest deep water, bend at the knees and see how well the vest maintains flotation on its back. The flotation device should keep the boater's head above water so that it is easy to breath.

Clean only with a mild soap or running water and allow to air dry away from direct sunlight and direct heat sources. Strong detergents or solvents should not be used. Never have it dry cleaned. PFD's should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated and easily accessible place onboard. Do not use PFD's as seat cushions, dock fenders, or any other purpose other than for which they were intended. Do not repair or alter PFD's (i.e.: patching holes, adding embroidering, etc) as this may result in a void approval status.