The ABCs of Flotation Devices

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A large number of sport hunters and anglers die each year simply because they either neglected to wear their flotation devices or wore them impro perly. More alarming still is that the majority of these had the lifesaving devices on board their craft.

The regulation requires that each craft (regardless of the type of craft) have on board a Canadian-approved personal flotation device or lifejacket, of the appropriate size, for each individual on board.

Standards of Approval

To comply with the standards, you must ensure that the label inside the flotation device indicates that it has been approved by one of the following agencies:

  • Transport Canada;
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
  • Canadian Coast Guard.

Different Styles

Today you can choose from a wide range of personal flotation devices ( PFDs ) offered in a variety of different colours and styles. Hunters and anglers can now find PFDs designed specifically for their activity.


Certain types have greater room in the arms to permit aiming for hunters, or freer casting for fly fishers. Some are available in camouflage. Others offer compartments for storing fishing tackle and accessories (flies, lures, etc. ). Another style, which is light, comfortable and less bulky, is the inflatable type. (This one must be worn at all times to comply withstandards.)

It is important to note that the most highly visible colours in the water are red, orange and yellow. Wearing these colours increases your chances of being located during a search and rescue operation.

Popular Misconception

It is incorrect to assume that it would be possible to easily locate and put on a flotation device once you have fallen into the water, even if you are a good swimmer. The following are examples of why:

  • Wind and waves may make the task very difficult;
  • Cold water temperatures may paralyze you;
  • The flotation device itself may remain in the boat, away from your reach.


Make sure you shop around for a flotation device that is appropriate for you. Ensure that the style you choose fits you comfortably and wear it at all times on the water. A flotation device, even within arm’s reach, is too far away. Checking the condition of your flotation device and trying it out in the water is strongly recommended.

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