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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week - Think Of Your PFD Like A Bra

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.
This week's tip is pretty obvious. And it's really more of a reminder then a tip, but here is is: WEAR YOUR PFD***! Hey, we told you it was obvious! But with so many people drowning in canoe, kayak and other boating accidents every year, it is also obvious that not enough of us are getting the message.

When out on the water, too many unpredictable circumstances can develop (such as getting cramps or not being able to swim because of very cold water, or even a serious head injury) so it is really important to remember: DON'T JUST BRING IT - PUT IT ON!

Look... whenever you go out in your canoe or kayak*, you really should wear your lifejacket. We know, we know.... not all of you want to... neither do we at times. But, really, it's not so bad! In fact, wearing a lifejacket or Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is a lot like wearing a bra!

So How is a PFD Like a Bra**?
•First off, just like a brassiere, a PFD or lifejacket must be fitted properly to do it's job right. And it really doesn't work if you don't do it up and wear it correctly!

•At one time in history, bras were limited in colour choices (boring beige or white) as were lifejackets (bright orange, anyone?). But both today's bra styles and PFD choices are limitless in the number of colour choices and designs available for numerous types of activities.

•Back in the day, bras, corsets (and yep! Lifejackets too!) were big, ugly, and pretty uncomfortable. However, with modern technological advances, both the bra and the life jacket have come a long way. Brassieres and PFD's are cut and styled for more comfort now, are more lightweight and technically advanced.

•Just like life jackets, there are rules and different bra styles for various occasions. Buying a PFD for whitewater kayaking is different then shopping for a life vest for a fisherman/woman - just as you wouldn't buy a jogging bra to wear with a strapless dress!
Unlike the old orange Life Preservers of the past,
today's Life Jackets are much more technical with
many added safety features and specifications
like this North Water Pro System Rescue PFD.

•As with a bra, when it comes to PFD's, it seems most men don't like wearing one! (In Canada, 90% of boaters succumbing to drowning were male and 78% of those who drowned in boating incidents were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD at the time of the incident). But we know that there are men who wear them.... and yes, that goes for both bras and PFD's!!!

•Just like a good brassiere, a good life jacket must be washed with care, usually by hand.

•Interestingly enough, and for the Clifford C. Clavin in all of us,  Playtex and PFD's are more originally alike then one would think. The inventor of spandex and owner of Playtex supplied materials for the war effort in World War Ⅱ. When the war ended, apparently the company used the materials developed for life jackets (yep! lifejackets!) for other purposes, particularly for intimate apparel and other garments such as girdles and bras (yep! bras!). (Source:

•A bra and/or lifejacket is a personal fit. If you gain or lose the right (or wrong!) amount of weight, this could render your bra or PFD as unsuitable. Make sure your life jacket (and brassiere, if applicable!) is sized properly and is appropriate for the chosen activity.

•Let's face it, as most ladies would know, when you first put on your brassiere - or lifejacket - you become very aware of it. But once you get used to it, you don't even think about it anymore. And once it becomes your routine, you may even feel a bit weird WITHOUT it!

•"And, just like a bra, wearing one should be voluntary, not mandatory." From Daniel Pike, a paddling dad from Ontario. Good one, Daniel! Very funny!!!

•For some women, they must wear a bra for support and to help prevent back pain. For EVERYONE, wearing a lifejacket could help prevent death.

Hey - don't think we are too weird for coming up with this correlation as we are obviously not the first to put the idea of brassieres and life vests together. The "Bay Watch" bikini life jacket concept by Bernstrand & Co. certainly takes the idea of bras & PFDs as far as it could ever go! (Source:, something about it's design makes us think it probably isn't Canadian Coast Guard Approved!!!
Image source:
Now for the REALLY serious stuff: 
According to, over one half of all recreational boating drownings, in Canada, occurred in lakes. About 39% of drowning victims were fishing from a boat or canoe and another 9% were canoeing. And another Canadian Red Cross study covering 15 years of boating deaths in Canada (1991 to 2006), stated it was found that of 2,232 people who drowned or died of hypothermia, only 12% were wearing a life jacket properly. And out of the 94% of Canadians who drowned, 90% of these boaters were found NOT wearing a lifejacket. Those are some scary statistics!

Too many of us think that we can find our lifejacket in an emergency and put it on if we fall into the water. But we aren't being realistic. With pre-existing health problems like low blood pressure or a sudden heart attack, an unexpected head injury, or even just the shock of cold water, could make it extremely difficult for anyone to follow thru with this plan. Already having your lifejacket on BEFORE you end up in the water will definitely make it easier for you to rescue yourself or, at least, be more able to remain floating until someone else can find and help rescue you if needed.

REMEMBER: DON'T JUST BRING IT - PUT IT ON! IT'S NOT ANY WORSE THEN HAVING TO WEAR A BRA, AFTER ALL! And remember fellas, if us girls can do it... then you can too!!!

*There are circumstances where wearing a PDF is not considered mandatory (i.e. racing)

**Because not all who paddle have worn a brassiere in their lifetime (although let's face it - there are a lot more men who have had on a bra for a lark then who would be willing to admit!), we felt we should explain ourselves more....

***Note: PFD, Life Jacket and Life Vest all refer to a Canadian Coast Guard Approved Personal Floatation Device for the purposes of this article.

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

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