How To Choose a Life Jacket For Your Boating Trips | All About PFDs

Life jackets are essential for water activities such as recreational boating, kayaking, inflatable boating and canoeing. We will discuss what they are, legal issues, and their types.

Remember to remove life jackets and other equipment from the boat when it is in winter storage. We covered this in the article on the ways to Keep Your Boat Safe and Secure in Winter Storage.

What are PFDs?

A life jacket is a personal flotation device (PFD) that is available in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes and materials. Some life jackets are robust and durable, while others are made to protect against cold water. No matter which life jacket you choose, make sure that the right one offers the right level of safety for you. It may seem that life jackets are for everyone, but they are not.

The Importance of Life Jackets

A life jacket or personal floating device (PFD) is the most important piece of equipment on your boat, and the most important consideration is size. More than two thirds of boat deaths are drowning victims and 90% of drowning victims do not wear life jackets. Buy a life jacket that you can wear anywhere because it can save your life.

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PFDs and the Law

Best PFD for boating

As a boat operator, it is your responsibility to provide life jackets to your passengers. Federal law requires all boats to be equipped with at least one portable life jacket for each passenger on the boat, including types I, II and III. Remember that there is a fine for those who fail to wear the correct number and type of life jacket on their passengers.

Choosing the right type depends on the activity and the conditions of the boat. The goal is simple: the style, fit and method of use of the life jacket influence how well your PFD performs the task it is supposed to perform. Life jackets, life jackets and ski vests all have their common names, but a PFD is a personal floating device. Its task, as the name suggests, is to keep the wearer alive when he or she lands in the water or opts for water sports such as skiing or wakeboarding.

PFD Label

A life jacket is your No. 1 boat safety accessory. Wear yours every time you’re on the water. A life jacket must be approved by the US Coast Guard or the government in your country or region. Choose a life jacket that matches the type of activity you plan. Make sure the life jacket is the right size for you. Check if it fits comfortably and allows freedom of movement. Check the label to confirm that it is approved by the Coast Guard. If you buy it personally, make sure the size is right for the person.

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To ensure that the life jacket is in good condition, look for holes and cracks. Personal flotation devices come in different types, so choose the best match for your activities and boat conditions. Type II jackets are designed to turn an unconscious person face up in the water. This type of jacket provides greater buoyancy (up to 20 pounds) and is designed for offshore use. It is bulkier to wear, but has the distinct advantage of transforming an unconscious person’s face out of the water more quickly.

In the past, ocean-going sailors chose life jackets with safety harnesses because they were seen as interfering with the life jackets themselves. Nowadays, inflatable life jackets and integrated harnesses offer a high level of safety in a single product. The offshore vest provides a lot of buoyancy and freedom of movement, while the wearer of the seat belt is tied to a jacket to stay connected to the boat. The second style, similar to Watersports PFD, adapts to a comfortable and secure fit so that the vest remains in position even when entering the water.

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Features of PFDs to look for:

features of PFDs and the how to inspect one

There are several types of traditional foam floats as well as newer inflatable life jackets. Each is designed for different boating activities and water conditions and has its own maximum buoyancy as well as performance levels and limits. You should choose your life jacket according to your boat activities and conditions.

In addition to Standard PFDs, there are inflatable PFDs and Hybrid PFDs. Take the time to ensure a proper fit. Make sure your life jacket is approved by the US Coast Guard.

Infographic: types of floatation devices PFDs

Note: If your boat is over 16 feet long, federal law requires that you have at least one type of lifejacket for each person in your boat.

Getting the Correct Sizing and Fit

It is important that you invest in the right life jacket before you take to the water. At the very least, the wrong size can be uncomfortable to wear and restrict movement, which is not ideal. Find out how to find the right size for your needs. When it comes to buying the right PFD life jacket, it is important to remember that you are looking for a device that fits your chest size, not your weight.

PFD Classification

  • Life Jackets For Adults
  • Life Jackets For Kids
  • Life Jackets For Dogs

The Different Types Of Life Vest

  • Type I: Offshore Life Jacket
  • Type II: Near-Short Buoyant Vest
  • Type III: Flotation Aid
  • Type IV: Throwable Device
  • Type V: Special Use Device
Five types of floatation devices

PFD Requirements in your State

Interactive chart:

Age requirements for life jackets by state

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