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20 December 2011

Seatbelt of the sea

Image: All NSRI crew wear correctly fitted lifejackets and safety gear at all times, especially in the sea.

SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS - There’s no doubt that life jackets save lives. But a life jacket that does not fit properly can put a person at risk of drowning. Proper fit is imperative for safety on the water.

Here are a few tips to follow when choosing a life jacket:

Choose only a SABS approved life jacket, and the correct size for the weight of the person. A person’s chest size and stomach size may come into play when selecting the right life jacket.
Lift your arms above your head to check if the lifejacket fits properly. The chest portion of the jacket should not touch your chin when you look left, right or over your shoulder. If the jacket passes this test, it most likely fits. If possible try it out in shallow water. The life jacket should not ride up on your body. However, ride-up may happen if your stomach is larger than your chest.

Weigh a child and measure for chest size under the arms before shopping for a child’s life jacket. A properly fitting jacket should be snug but not tight.

Check for proper fit of a life jacket on a child. Wearing the jacket, the child should stand normally with arms at his or her sides. Grab the jacket at the shoulders and firmly lift up. The jacket does not fit if it moves more than three inches up and down the child’s body during the test.

Ensure a life jacket for an infant or child has a crotch strap to help keep the life jacket on, an oversized float collar to help keep the head out of the water and a grab loop for easier water rescue. All straps should be intact and fastened at all times.

- Knysna/Plett Herald