Buoyancy Testing a PFD

August 12, 2011

Testing a PFD for buoyancy is an important yearly exercise. It should also be done whenever you have any doubts about the PFD or if it is newly purchased.


  1. Have the intended user don the PFD. Make all adjustments necessary to get a proper fit.
  2. Try out the PFD in shallow water.
  3. At chest depth in a lake or swimming pool, raise your legs and put your head back. Your chin should be above water and breathing should be easy.
  4. If everything is good so far, try jumping into the water and relax your body to allow the PFD to bring you to the surface. Note if you are face up or face down.

If the PFD fails this test, get another. There must be enough buoyancy to keep the wearer afloat! Your life depends on the PFD doing its intended job!

It is particularly important for children to become comfortable wearing a PFD in the water, since their body weight distribution makes them more likely to float face-down – especially if they panic.

Note:  In the case of Inflatable PFDs with automatic inflation, the mechanism that triggers the inflation should be checked by a service technician to make sure that it is functioning correctly.


Comments or questions are welcome.

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