Are wader belts and lifejackets necessary to wear with my waders?
Waders are commonly worn by anglers when prawning, fishing in lakes and along shores, on small boats and sometimes whilst launching boats. Waders are intended to keep you dry and warm while in the water. In some states, lifejackets are compulsory in any situation where you might also wear waders, but we strongly recommend you wear suitable life jackets any time you near or not the water.
If you're not wearing a wading belt, you have just broken the number one safety rule and your waders will indeed fill with water and you may experience a brief, and undoubtedly scary, surge of acceleration if you’re caught in a current. Stay calm, once your speed matches that of the surrounding current, the force on your waders diminishes to near zero; you're basically floating drag-free now, as you would in a lake.
At this point, you have two options:- if you're close to a bank and the current's not horrendously fast, strike out for shore, swimming hard. If conditions don't permit a quick exit, float on your back, paddle with your arms to keep your head up, use your feet to deflect yourself over boulders, and wait until a suitable exit point presents itself.
It is for these reasons, that if you choose to wear waders it is important to wear a wader belt and where appropriate or required to also use a lifejacket. A securely fitting wader belt will reduce the amount of water getting in your waders; this will assist with your ability to float by trapping air in your waders and your lifejacket will be vital in supporting and floating you. Wearing a lifejacket will also aid in your ability to swim back to shore or your vessel using the recommended swimming position of lying on your back, face up and sculling backwards.
If you are wearing waders and end up in deep water, remain calm, your waders may pull you along in the current will not pull you under if:
- you stay calm and confident,
- you are wearing a belt around your waders that doesn’t stretch when wet and keeps air trapped in your waders,
- you cannot reach the bottom with your feet, then pull your knees up to your chest so the trapped air helps keep your chest and head afloat; and,
- don’t waste your energy swimming against the current, but rather swim across the current to any other safe place.
Danger: Taking your waders off in the water is the last resort as this can be very difficult, potentially exhausting you, loosing the air trapped in your waders may cause you to sink, and if not completely removed they will pull you along in the water, or even under the water, like a sail caught in the current, so always wear your life jacket. Trying to remove them could end up endangering your life.
Never rely on any single safety feature alone and always wear a Life Jacket. Always be sure to check your local rules and regulations for required safety wear around water.