Fitting Lifejackets

Lifejackets help keep you afloat, provide warmth and are seen more easily by rescuers.

A lifejacket should fit snugly and shouldn’t ride up when the person enters the water.

    1. Fitting a lifejacket out of the water.
      • Show the students how to read the label on the lifejacket to find the right fit.
      • Select the correct lifejacket by size and weight indicators.
      • Check belt straps are not twisted.
      • Put it on and do up do up zip, if applicable, and each buckle so that it is a snug fit.
      • Demonstrate a poor fitting jacket.
      • Self-check the belt fit by inserting two fingers between the belt and the lifejacket.
      • Buddy check by lifting at the shoulders to ensure the lifejacket doesn’t ride up past earlobes.


    1. Fitting a lifejacket in the water.
      • Fitting a lifejacket in the water is important to replicate emergency situations such as accidental falls from a boat not wearing a lifejacket or if thrown a lifejacket as a rescue aid.
      • Open lifejacket and lie it face up in the water.
      • Lie of top of the lifejacket, without putting arms through the armholes.
      • Put one arm through the opposite armhole.
      • Rotate body and put other arm through other armhole.
      • Tightly secure zip and buckles.

Poorly fitted lifejacket demonstration

Teaching Tips and Class Management

  • Have the student pair up and help each other fit their own lifejackets.
  • Experiment before instruction putting a lifejacket on in deep water.
  • After instruction students could then practice on dry-land or shallow water, before moving back to deep water.
  • Role play a rescue in pairs, student signals they need assistance and partner throws a lifejacket to be fitted in the water.

Correctly fitted lifejackets save lives.

Use of approved and correctly fitted lifejackets is an effective way to reduce drowning deaths.