When the PFD Fits... Wear it! Part II: Kids
In the last issue of the NRS e-News, we discussed selecting, fitting and adjusting personal flotation devices, or PFDs, for adults. (If you missed the article, you can find it here in the e-News Archives.) Now we’ll discuss how to find the right PFD for the child or youth in your life. We’ll also show you how to teach your child to wear, adjust and utilize their new PFD.
But before we get to the kids, let’s talk about you. The first step toward keeping your child safe on the water is keeping yourself safe, and that means wearing your PFD. In the event of an on-the-water emergency, you won’t be able to help your child if you’re struggling to stay afloat. Besides, wearing your own life jacket demonstrates that safety is important to you. And what’s important to you will seem important to your child.
Fitting children follows the same general rule as fitting adults: a PFD should fit securely without being too tight. The term the Coast Guard uses is “comfortably snug”. If you can’t make the life jacket fit snugly, then it’s too big. If you can’t put it on your child and fasten it comfortably, then it’s too small.
Notice the word “comfort” coming up a lot here? Good. Remember, the best life jacket is the one that gets worn. The more comfortable a PFD is, the easier it will be to get little Sally or Bobby to wear it.
Every PFD manufacturer has its own sizing system, and it’s important to confirm sizing before purchasing any brand of life vest. Consult the PFD manufacturer’s sizing chart to determine which size PFD your child will need.
NRS life jackets are broken down into three major categories, as shown in the chart below. Where does your child fit?
After you’ve consulted the PFD manufacturer’s sizing recommendations and selected a life jacket, have your child try it on and get used to wearing it. Taking the PFD along to the pool or your local swimming hole for a “dry run” provides a great opportunity to test the life jacket under controlled conditions and to teach your child how it works.
Talk your child through the process of putting on and adjusting their life vest. Show them how to fasten the zippers and/or buckles. Demonstrate how to adjust the fit the same way NRS Customer Service Representative Emily taught “Boater Alex” in last issue’s Safety Source. Kids love to learn and feel included.
Introducing young people to the joys of the boating world is a fine gift to give them. Just remember, their safety is in your hands. For more info and tips on keeping them safe and helping them enjoy the experience, check out these newsletter articles:
Boat Often & Boat Safe!