Diamond and Diamond BC
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Hamilton Consultation Office

105 Main Street East, Suite 1500

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17 Poyntz Street

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278 Algoma Street South


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4246 97 Street NW, Unit 100


The Importance of Wearing a Lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device

Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations require that all personal flotation devices should be comfortable and functional enough to be worn at all times. However, the regulation does not technically require that you should wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to wear this protective gear whenever you are on a boat or even swimming.

The Canadian Red Cross reports that over 87% of individuals who drown while boating are not wearing a lifejacket or personal flotation device. This evidence alone is a good reason to always wear this type of gear while boating. They are also useful for those who do not swim well or for children.

Reasons to Wear your Lifejacket or Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)

A lifejacket or personal flotation device will only protect you if you wear it. In fact, many PFDs may not be able to be inflated if you attempt to put them on in the water. The majority of drowning victims had lifejackets available but chose not to wear them for one reason or another. The safety equipment can only be effective if you use it properly!

Lifejackets are specifically designed to keep you floating in the water. They provide rescuers with extra time to get to you. While you may be able to swim in the water on your own, fatigue can strike quickly. It only takes 60 seconds for an adult to drown– 20 seconds for a child. The extra time that a lifejacket provides you may mean the difference between life and death. It also keeps her head above water.

While lifejackets may not be the most fashion-forward equipment, they have significant advantages regarding safety. In addition, today’s lifejackets are designed with consumers in mind, and many are more comfortable now than they ever have been.

Canadian-approved Lifejackets

A Canadian approved standard lifejacket is designed to turn the body face up in the water so that you can breathe even if you are unconscious. This feature obviously has significant benefits if you are injured even before you enter the water.

There are two sizes of lifejackets–one is for those who weigh under 40 kg (90 pounds), and the other is for heavier individuals. Approved lifejackets also feature a whistle attached to the jacket itself. They should be orange, red, or yellow.

Lifejackets should be slightly loose to allow water under the front of the jacket. This water permits the jacket to function properly. Zippers, fasteners, and straps should all be adjusted to fit the individual. Generally, lifejackets will offer a higher level of protection compared to PFDs.

Canadian-approved PFDs

Approved PFDs are similar to lifejackets but have significant differences. They are designed for recreational boating and are often more comfortable and smaller than conventional lifejackets. They do not have as much ability to float, but they are still effective.

Inflatable PFDs are also available. These will either inflate when they come in contact with water or utilise a manual or oral inflation device. However, you can only use these types of PFDs if you are over 16 years of age and weigh more than 36 kg.

Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Some boating accidents result in legal liability, even if you are wearing a lifejacket. Situations where the boat driver is irresponsible or where your flotation device failed may lead to the potential for litigation. Call 1-800-567-HURT to determine your legal options after a boating accident.


What Is the Difference Between a Life Jacket and a Pfd?

Life jackets and Personal Flotation Devices are very similar. However, key differences exist between the two. Life jackets are bulkier, less comfortable, and more regulated. They incorporate whistles, and come in two sizes, for people above and below 90 lb (40 kg). They’re commonly used in situations where emergencies may arise, as they work on unconscious people. PFDs are sleeker, slimmer and easier to move around in. They’re preferred by aquatic athletes, such as kayak enthusiasts. They are less buoyant, though, and may require manual activation. Only people above 16 years old and 70 lb (32 kg) can use them.

When Must a Life Jacket or Flotation Device Be Replaced?

Life jackets and PFDs have a limited service life. The amount of time they’re good for depends largely on the quality of the materials and manufacturing. It can go from a couple of years up to a decade, with proper maintenance and storage. Storing your life jackets or PFDs while humid, in hot places, or exposed to the sun, could result in degradation. Low quality devices tend to degrade very quickly. Always test your life jackets and PFDs prior to use. Squeeze them to half their thickness. It should return to normal very quickly. If it crumbles, it’s a goner.

How Long Can a Life Jacket Keep You Afloat?

A life jacket is a very effective tool for staying afloat in any body of water. You may be wondering how long life jackets are effective for once in the water. The answer is, essentially, as long as you may possibly need. Most search and rescue efforts at sea stop after 3 days, as humans can’t survive more than that without water. A life jacket in working order, though, continues to do its job far longer than that. In fact, life jackets continue to be effective even if the person wearing them has passed.

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