Safety First: How to Choose the Best Life Jackets for You and Your Family

1 Apr 2021
Larry Ficks

Before every road trip, safety measures are taken. We check the oil in our car, check the breaks, make sure we have everything we need in case of an emergency, that the tank is filled up and ready to go. It’s not much different when water-bound trips are in question. No matter if it’s a short ride along the coast or sailing for a longer time, safety checks are carried out to make sure everything is in order and ready to take on the smooth sea surface.

Still, when it comes to trips on the water, there is a bit more equipment needed than when travelling by car. You need to take into account a lot of different situations where you might be forced to abandon ship or just take precautionary measures and all of these situations call for life vests. There are a lot of intricacies when it comes to life vests and you really need to pay attention when buying one. After all, they’re not called “life vests” without a reason!

Here are some factors you need to take into account before you buy life vest, online or in-store.

Approved Life Vest


It’s very important for the life vests you’re looking at to be approved by Australian standards and have a stamp of approval on them from the proper authority. This is a crucial feature, as it is a sign that the vest is safe to use, has been tested, and has been made following national and international guidelines.

Look on the inside of the life jacket for this stamp of approval alongside all the other useful information about your personal flotation device. If the jacket lacks this, don’t buy it. The easiest way to make sure your vest will actually save your life in a situation of crisis is to buy one from a trusted retailer that clearly states the make, model, and approval standard. When you get the jacket, double-check if everything is in order.



After you’ve made sure the jackets you’re looking at are approved and safe, it’s time to choose the proper size. Having a life jacket in the right size will make sure it fits snugly – not too tight nor not too loose.

If your jacket is too tight, it won’t be comfortable to wear and it might not hold the person wearing it afloat, basically turning into a hazard itself instead of a safety item. If the life jacket is too big, it will sit loosely on your body, allowing water to come between it and you, again, posing a risk to your safety instead of ensuring it.

Both of these situations may cause you not to be able to put on your life jacket and fasten it safely or for the safety straps to come undone. That’s why size matters a lot. For adults, it’s the circumference of the chest, not the weight that determines the size of your life jacket. To measure properly, stand up straight and have someone run a soft measure tape around the most prominent part of your chest. This will give you the number which you’ll then translate into the proper size.

For children, the procedure is a bit different as the size of the life jacket they need is based on their weight. Weigh your child and pick the size that corresponds with their weight. Make sure it fits the child well, as per the instructions mentioned above. Children up to the age of 12 need this method to measure their life jackets. After that, they switch to the adult measuring system.



Although life vests don’t exactly have an expiration date, it’s still very important to check their condition before sailing out. This means checking the overall state of the life vest, inspecting it closely for any tears in the material or any small holes or cracks that might have appeared, test the strapping mechanisms, and just generally make sure everything is fine.

By properly storing your life vests, you’ll cut this process short and can be sure that they will be ready to be used whenever you might need them. Proper storage means storing your life vests in a place where the elements can’t reach them, especially the sun, as it has the most destructive effect on items that are prolongedly exposed to its rays. They also need a dry environment as to not deteriorate, lose their shape, or get mouldy. Always store your life jackets on your boat so you’re always sure they’re there when you most need them.

Get Your Dog a Life Vest


By following these instructions you can rest assured that the product you’re getting is valid, quality-made, and most importantly – safe. If you’re planning on taking your dog along for the trip, make sure you get a life vest for them too! It’s recommended for your dog to wear its life vest at all times as they can be easily amused, especially if they’re a water lover.

Dog PFDs exist and can be found at the same stores you can buy life vest for humans. The aforementioned steps for measuring, approval, and condition also apply to animal life jackets.

By taking these precautionary measures you can be completely relaxed and know that whatever happens, your family and you will be safe! A positive outlook on life is always the best one, but it never hurts to be prepared for something negative – just in case. Rock some music, enjoy the sunshine, and have a great trip! We wish you smooth seas and happy memories only!