Georgia Boater Education Course


CHAPTER 2: Boating Equipment


For your PFD to work properly, it needs to fit properly.

A properly fitted PFD will not ride higher than the ears or mouth of the wearer. It should also be comfortable to wear.

Here’s an easy test to make sure you’ve got the right fit.

  • Put on your PFD and adjust the straps to get a snug fit. Can’t get a snug fit by tightening the straps? Your PFD is probably too large.
  • Now get in the water to see that it can hold your weight. For safety reasons, it’s recommended doing this in shallow water.
  • Bring your knees up to your chest, so that you are floating in the water. If the PFD supports your weight and has stayed around your chest, then you have a good fit.

Remember, if your PFD rides up higher than your mouth or ears, it’s too large.

Now that you’ve got a properly fitted PFD and you’re already wet, try swimming with it on. This will help you get comfortable wearing a PFD in the water.





Because accidents happen quickly, it is highly recommended that all boaters wear a PFD at all times when on the water. In the case of a fall overboard, you will not have time to put on your PFD.

However, if you are not wearing your PFD, at least make sure that it is accessible in the case of emergency. This means not stored below decks.

Always make sure that throwable PFDs are accessible and ready for action. Don’t buy a throwable PFD and leave it stored in its packaging! Unwrap it, test it, and keep it within easy reach. Accessible means you can access it without delay.