Do you know the rules for life jackets on boats in Canada? If boating is part of your summer plans, this is the perfect time to refresh your memory before the start of the season.
What Types of Life Jackets are Approved in Canada?
Life jackets approved for use in Canada come in two sizes. The right size for you will depend on your weight.
- 40 kilograms or more
- Less than 40 kilograms
These standard life jackets are only available in orange, red, or yellow and must have a whistle attached. Don’t buy a life jacket if it doesn’t meet these criteria.
Another type of life jacket available in Canada is the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). A SOLAS life jacket will flip you on your back within seconds, which prevents you from ending up face-down in cold water. This feature is especially useful if you’re unconscious.
Canada has approved SOLAS life jackets for all types of vessels since they meet exceptionally high-performance standards. They are available in two sizes, over 32 kilograms and under 32 kilograms. You can inflate your SOLAS life jacket automatically, manually, or by blowing into it until it has enough air.
If you’re looking for life jackets to carry on your boat, another option is the small vessel life jacket. Remember that you can only use this type of life jacket while aboard a small vessel. The sizes available are for people over or under 40 kilograms. Like the SOLAS life jacket, the small vessel life jacket turns you on your back in the water even if you’re unconscious.
Personal Flotation Devices
The designers of personal flotation devices (PFDs) created them to act as life jackets on boats. PFDs are typically less bulky, smaller, and more comfortable to wear than life jackets. However, the government of Canada recommends life jackets over PFDs because they give you a better chance of surviving and recovering from the shock of falling into cold water.
Cold water is startling to the human body, and you could find yourself dealing with nerve damage, muscle cramps, breathing difficulty, and confusion within moments of falling into it. Besides keeping you afloat, life jackets offer thermal protection that you won’t find in a PFD.
You can buy a PFD in a wide range of colours, but the Canadian Coast Guard recommends choosing a bright colour to ensure you remain as visible as possible while in the water. Be sure to consider individual factors when it comes to purchasing a PFD. For example, look for a PFD with thermal protection if you plan to be in the water when the air temperature is 15 degrees Celsius or less. Here are several other things to look for when buying a PFD:
- Adequate head support
- Buckle that includes a safety strap
- correct size according to your weight
- Grab strap
- Large collar
- Neck ties
- Reflective tape
- Safety strap to prevent children from pulling the PFD over their heads
- Snug-fitting drawstring at the waist
- Stamp or label showing the PFD meets Canadian safety standards
- Zipper that is sturdy and won’t rust
The Canadian government doesn’t permit boat passengers under 16 or who weigh less than 36.3 kilograms to wear an inflatable PFD. You also can’t wear this type of device when driving a boat that meets the definition of a small vessel, which is zero to 15 gross tons.
Take Care of Your Life Jacket or PFD to Ensure Long-Lasting Performance
Don’t forget to look for issues such as a broken zipper, frayed strap, or general wear and tear on your life jacket or PFD. These problems could indicate that you should replace your life jacket or PFD as soon as possible to ensure maximum boat safety.
You can prolong the usefulness of your life jacket or PFD by storing it in a dry area with plenty of ventilation. Cleaning your life jacket or PFD is as simple as scrubbing it with mild soap and water, rinsing it thoroughly, and placing it in direct sunlight to air dry.
Do you still need to insure your boat before taking it out for the first time this season? Contact Wayfarer Insurance for help today.