For Hometown News
PFD is shorthand for Personal Flotation Device. It's another name for what people have always called a "life jacket."
The primary reason for wearing one is that PFD becomes PDF - People Don't Float.
Do life vests protect boaters?
According to the United States Coast Guard, 85 percent of all annual boating deaths are due to failure to use PFDs, and 60 percent of those deaths involved people falling overboard without a PFD.
What type of life vest is best for you?
The "right" type depends on the type of boating you do, your swimming skills, size, age and weight.
Before looking at the types of PFDs, we need to answer the question, regardless of good sense and self-regard, what are the minimums, by law?
What are the laws?
Children younger than 6 on vessels less than 26 feet, while underway, MUST wear PFDs.
All personal water craft operators and water skiers MUST wear PFDs.
All boats MUST to carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD per passenger.
In addition, should your vessel be at least 16 feet long, a throwable PFD, such as a life ring or cushion, is also REQUIRED.
What types of life vests are available to the average boater?
As taught in the Junior Safe Boating Class, taught by the Banana River Sail and Power Squadron, the PFD classifications are:
TYPE I - off-shore
Turns most users face up
Big and bulky
Type II - near-shore and inland
Turns some users face up
Part of USCG kit
Type III - buoyant device
Does not elevate head
Does not turn face up
Must be worn when underway
Type IV - throwable PFDs are required for vessels 16 feet and greater
Thrown to person overboard - cushion, life ring, horseshoe buoy
Type V - Inflatables
Inflatables are not legal for skiers or on personal water crafts, plus minimum weight of user is 80 pounds
Sailboat harness PFD
Of all these types, the inflatable has grown in popularity. These are especially comfortable for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
However, inflatable PFDs have ZERO buoyancy, unless inflated manually or automatically.
They require much more regular maintenance than all other types.
Most importantly, they may not to be used for weak or non-swimmers, children younger than 16 or weighing less than 80 pounds, or for water impact sports or under clothing.
Whatever your choice of PFD, always make the decision to wear one. Remember, no one wearing a PFD died in a Florida boating accident, and what is most important to remember, "People Don't Float!"