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Volunteer for Lifejacket, Personal Flotation Devices Swim Tests

Participate in swim tests in North Carolina, U.S., to help UL evaluate lifejackets and personal flotation devices and promote public safety.

Smiling boy wearing lifejacket in swimming pool

Participate in swim testing

Wearing a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) can prevent 90% of boating-related drownings.  Swim tests are a key part of determining whether lifejackets and PFDs meet safety and performance requirements. UL‘s swim test program is open to anyone who meets basic testing requirements and wants to help promote public safety.

Volunteering for Life Jacket Testing

Swim testing subject information

UL pays swim subjects per session for participating in our ongoing testing and evaluation of PFDs. Testing takes place at an indoor, heated test tank (pool) at UL’s Research Triangle Park facility in North Carolina.

Testing is conducted Monday-–Friday between 8 a.m. to -5:30 p.m., though additional test times may be arranged. Each testing session is private and takes approximately 15- to 45 minutes, depending on the type of device and number of devices to be tested during the scheduled session.

Everyone is welcome to apply, though UL has a special need for:

  • Adults of any weight with chest sizes of 52 inches or more.
  • Adults weighing at least 90 pounds with chest sizes of 30 inches or less.
  • Adults of any weight with chest sizes of 30 inches or more.
  • Children weighing 30 to 90 pounds (specifically, we always have a high need for people weighing 29-34, 49-52, 54-56, and 88-91 pounds.)
  • Children weighing 30 to 90 pounds with chest sizes of 29 inches or less.
  • Infants weighing less than 30 pounds with any chest size.

All swim subjects must be able to perform the following skills:

  • Follow directions.
  • Put on a PFD as quickly as possible.
  • Float in a relaxed manner on their back while wearing a PFD.
  • Put their face in the water while wearing a PFD.
  • Feel comfortable in and around water*.

Test subjects weighing more than 50 pounds must also be able to perform the following skills while wearing a PFD:

  • Jump feet first into the water from a height of three feet without holding their nose.
  • Put their face in the water and hold their breath for at least 10 seconds.
  • Float in a relaxed manner on their stomach.
  • Perform in-water jumping jacks (with head under water).
  • Self-right (roll over) from a face-down position to a face-up position.

Test subjects weighing less than 30 pounds must be able to:

  • Lift up and support their head and neck.
  • Have parental/adult assistance with swim testing (this will require the parent/adult to enter the pool).
  • Infants must complete six-turn tests, which consist of placing the child face-down in the water while the device turns them to a face-up position.
  • Float in a relaxed manner on their back while wearing a PFD.

To become a paid test subject, complete the Swim Test Application or contact [email protected] with any questions.

For anyone under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian’s contact information must be provided.

*Please note that while subjects are not required to know how to swim, we do require participants to be comfortable in the water. Some PFDs do require a more advanced swim competency.

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