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How to Choose a Life Vest

Being safe in and around the water is a priority for us at Charlotte Aquatics. One of the five safety rules our students have been learning all month is to wear a life jacket (PFD) while on a boat or when swimming in the lake. Many parents ask us what to look for when purchasing a life jacket. Here are some guidelines for you.

Fit is important in keeping a child’s head above water. Make sure your life vest fits snug. Once the vest is zipped and/or strapped, grab the vest at the shoulders and lift up. If the vest is fitting properly, your child’s ears and chin should not slip through. 

Sizing for a youngster depends on his or her weight (and not chest size, as it does with adults):

  • Infant PFDs: 8 to 30 pounds
  • Child PFDs: 30 to 50 pounds
  • Youth PFDs: 50 to 90 pounds

For infants and small children, a PFD should have the following:

  • Padded head support to help keep the child’s head above water. This is the kind we have them try on at our pool.
  • Grab handle to assist retrieving the child out of the water if they should fall out of the boat.
  • Crotch strap to help keep the PFD from riding up.

As we do at Charlotte Aquatics, familiarize your child with the PFD before you have to use it. You don’t want your first time out this season to be filled with tears! Also, have your child float in the water to assure them and yourself that the PFD will hold them up in the water.  Again, an emergency situation is not when you want to first experience your PFD.

The swimming and boating season are upon us. Make sure you keep your child safe!