PADDLERsmart! Canada Knowledge Base

Module 02 - Boating Equipment


Life jackets are available in both youth and adult sizes, and feature a ‘keyhole’ or ‘vest’ design. 

Life jackets are manufactured with extra flotation in the front and are designed to turn an unconscious person face-up in the water. For this reason, your life jacket should fit slightly loose. This allows water to flow underneath the front of the life jacket, ensuring that it will work properly.

Boat operators can choose between wearing a life jacket or PFD, but should keep in mind that life jackets offer a higher level of protection.

We know what you're thinking:

"Life jackets are uncomfortable!". Maybe once this was true, but today’s life jackets aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago. There have been technical advances that make them more comfortable, and easier to wear. Plus, when you take a hard fall while you're waterskiing, and your life jacket is the only thing keeping you from drowning, you won't be spending much time worrying about how "uncomfortable" it is. 

Trust us. Wear your life jacket!

In Canada, there are three styles of approved life jackets available, including:

  • Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Life Jackets, which offer the best performance and will turn an unconscious person face-up, and out of the water, in seconds.
  • Standard Life Jackets, which provide a high level of buoyancy, and will turn an unconscious person face-up and out of the water, but are often less comfortable.
  • Small Vessel Life Jackets, which are also designed to turn an unconscious person face-up and out of the water, but are less buoyant than other life jacket types and have less turning ability. 

Remember! Always make sure that your life jackets' zippers, fasteners, buckles, and straps are adjusted for a proper fit.


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