How to Fit a Life Jacket

December 10, 2015

Living in the 'home girt by sea', it's only natural for us to spend large amounts of time in or around the water. The need to be vigilant in and around water - from surf to rivers, from still lakes to swimming pools - is something we have all had drilled into us.

One way to keep as safe as possible around water is to wear an approved and correct-fitting life jacket (PFD).

We caught up with Chris Sanford from Menace Marine to discuss how to correctly choose and fit a life jacket.

How to Choose the Right Life Jacket (PFD)

Tip #1: Get the right size

Getting the right size with a snug fit is crucial. If the jacket is too big, it is very likely to simply pop off the top of your head when you are in the water. Obviously, life jackets are buoyant, and if the sizing is not right, it will simply float away.

Tip #2: Make sure the jacket can hold your weight

Inside every life jacket, it will state the weight bracket the jacket is designed for, 40-60kg for example. In addition to a good fit, it is incredibly important to make sure your life jacket can hold your weight. e-jackets)

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How to Correctly Fit a Life Jacket

Tip #1: Thumb gap only

You shouldn't be able to lift the jacket too far up. One way to check is to put your thumb underneath the shoulder straps. There should be enough room for your thumbs but not much else. If there is too much room here, the jacket is too loose and won't work effectively if you find yourself in the water.

Tip #2: Firm fit, but not tight

You want the life jacket to fit firmly, but not too tight. If the life jacket is too tight, it may restrict your breathing which is pretty much the opposite of what the life jacket was designed to do. Who knows how long you will be in the water waiting for help, so being able to breathe comfortably is of the utmost importance.

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Tip #3: Know the difference for the kids

Kids life jackets have some slight differences to cater for the differences in body shape, weight and size. They will normally be fitted with a groin strap to prevent the life jacket slipping up and over the child's head.

Tip #4: Fit may be different

Each life jacket may have slight variations - the number of buckles, the type of buckle and overall fit. Most jackets will have some level of adjustment available, but it's best to check when you first purchase the life jacket to make sure it can be tailored to your individual needs.

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