Georgia Boater Education Course


CHAPTER 2: Boating Equipment


Children need to wear PFDs whenever they are around the water. They also need to be taught how to properly wear a PFD and get used to wearing one.

Understandably, children often panic when they suddenly fall into the water. Panicking can make it difficult for the child to float face up, even when wearing a PFD. So children should get used to wearing a PFD in the water before heading out on vessel.

It’s also critical that a child’s lifejacket fit properly; careful consideration must always be given when choosing an infant or child-sized PFD. After buying a PFD, you’ll also want to test the fit in safe and shallow water.

The fit must be snug enough that the child must not be able to slip out of the lifejacket!

Lifejackets for infants and smaller children (less than 50 pounds) should have a crotch strap to ensure a snug fit, as well as a large float collar for head support. A good way to test a child's lifejacket is to pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD. If you’ve got the right fit, the PFD will not slip above the child's chin and ears. Before buying a lifejacket for a child, always check the user label. The user label will indicate the weight range for which the lifejacket is approved. This table provides a guide of lifejacket sizes and weight ranges.



Less than 30 lbs

Child Small

30-50 lbs

Child Medium

30-50 lbs


50-90 lbs

Age Newborn to 2 years 2 to 5 years 4 to 8 years 6 to 12 years

Chest size

16 - 20" 20-23" to 23-25" 21-25" 26-29"