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Choosing the Proper Size Flotation Devices

By: Crest Pontoon Boats on Friday, August 25, 2023

Choosing the proper floatation device generally depends on two factors- size and weight. Adults choose the proper size based on their chest measurements and for children, the proper size is based on their weight.  

For adults, your chest size will determine what size PFD you need. Measure the circumference of your chest at its broadest point. Adult sizing is from Small to Extra Large and based on the specific device use the size guide and can choose accordingly.  

Children’s life jackets are labeled as being for an infant, child, or youth. To figure out which life jacket to buy for your child, you use their weight as a guide: 

  • Infant PFDs: 8–30 pounds 

  • Child PFDs: 30–50 pounds 

  • Youth PFDs: 50–90 pounds 

Let's not forget our furry friends who often join us on the boat... our dogs! Many dogs are good swimmers but others lack confidence in the water or in certain situations, they may get tired or panic. Dog PFDs are not USCG certified, but they can still be a lifesaver and help your pet enjoy the water. 

To find the right life jacket for your dog: 

  • It should fit snugly so your dog cannot twist, step, or swim out of it. 

  • Look for a low-profile style that will have less potential of catching a snag. 

  • Look for one with easy-release buckles. 

  • Choose one that has a handle for lifting them out of the water. 

Along with sizing, there are also a few different styles of PFDs to choose from. Certain jackets are created with buoyancy to help an unconscious person turn over in the water which is a great option if you’re further out offshore and help may be delayed. These are not the most comfortable to wear but they are very effective. Then there is the more recreational-style ski vest that provides buoyancy but is more comfortable to wear. There are also floatation devices that aren’t worn but tossed from the boat to be held onto. These come in the form of cushions with handles, rings, or horseshoe-shaped.  

Before you take your boat out make sure you have the right amount and size for all persons onboard. Also, check to make sure your jackets are in good condition with no holes or tears.