Being as we are here in the heart of the Monadnock region, a veritable vacation paradise, and that we are staying in a house on a lake that is equipped with various recreational boats, it seemed like a wise thing to invest in a lifejacket for wee Oliver.
So before we drove down we went off to Canadian Tire and bought a solid looking Buoy-o-Buoy brand lifejacket.
And last night we decided it would be wise to try Oliver out in the lifejacket to see what would actually happen were he to fall out of a boat and need the lifejacket to keep him, well, alive.
We were not pleased with the result: left to its own devices, the Oliver + lifejacket combination resulted in an Oliver face down in the water. This is not a Good Thing and, I assumed, not what a lifejacket is actually supposed to do.
So I phoned Buoy-o-Buoy in Guelph, Ontario and talked to a very helpful woman who explained the situation.
We had not, as it turned out, purchased a lifejacket at all, but rather a PFD. I always thought that a PFD — it stands for personal floatation device — was some bureaucrat’s semantic reinvention of the word lifejacket. But I was wrong: a PFD is not a lifejacket.
A PFD, it seems, is simply designed to help an otherwise fully-functioning person float. A lifejacket, on the other hand, is designed to roll you over onto your back and thus to keep your face out of the water.
Which is obviously what we want to have happen with Oliver.
So we’ll be off in search of a bona fide life jacket (Buoy-o-Buoy sells them too) and we’ll try that out with Oliver to see if the result is any better.
If you’ve got a wee one of your own you may wish to check to see what sort of lifejacket or PFD you’re using before you take them on the water: you may be surprised.