Unfortunately, I did not bring my own safety equipment and was at the mercy of whatever the host had available. As a result, what I ended up with was an old, ratty looking lifejacket that could easily have been worn by my great-grandfather. When I jumped into the water, the PFD (personal floatation device) proved to be much too big, engulfing me as soon as I hit the water. Luckily, the weather was good and the water was relatively shallow, so the only issue was the embarrassing (albeit hilarious) photograph my friends took of me being swallowed by my personal floatation device. But, in an emergency situation, this would have been dangerous, and could have proved disastrous!
When choosing a PFD or lifejacket, it is important to note how it fits you; it should fit snug, but not too tight. It is important to check that your device is appropriate for your size and weight; a PFD that’s too small won’t keep you afloat and one that’s too big may not keep your head out of the water. Be aware of the additional safety features on children’s PFD’s, which should include a collar neck and head support, reflective tape for additional visibility, as well as a strap for between the legs to securely fasten the vest.