Lifejackets - Life Vests - Inflatable PFD
Recent Facts From the US Coast Guard About Life Jackets &
Risk of Dying in an Accident
519 boaters drowned in 2000. Life jackets could have saved the
lives of approximately 445 boaters who drowned. In 2000,
approximately eight out of every ten victims in fatal boating
accidents were not wearing life jackets. Boaters continue to be
at greater risk of dying when involved in an accident during the
fall and winter months than in summer. Besides the colder
weather and water, there are fewer boaters and patrol officers
in the area to rescue boaters in distress. When waters are below
60 degrees Fahrenheit, hypothermia can set in quickly.
Those who hunt and fish from boats, especially in colder
weather, need to dress for possible immersion and wear their
life jackets. Boaters in larger bodies of water should also take
advantage of using available distress alerting and position
indicating technologies to improve their chances of survival if
a mishap occurs.
Who Needs PFD's? Everyone Who Goes Boating!
Anytime anyone goes boating, there's a chance to fall overboard.
A PFD (Personal Floatation Device) is designed to keep your head
above water and to help you remain in a position which permits
proper breathing. An average adult only needs artificial
buoyancy of 7 to 12 pounds to remain afloat, and virtually all
approved PFD's provide this amount of floatation. Don't take
chances-know the facts about your lifejacket. Don't forget about
a kayaking life jacket if that is your sport
And don't forget about your pets, many people take their dogs
onboard, ok that's great and they seem to really like the water,
but did you know that you can now buy a dog life jacket!
When buying a PFD, always check the labels to make sure it is
approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. It must be well-designed, fit
well, and it must be in good condition to meet Coast Guard
Buy a Lifejacket You Will Wear - and Wear it!
Pick a lifejacket that fits, and fits the type of boating you
will be doing. There are many that are comfortable and
attractive, which means you are much more likely to be wearing
it if an emergency arises. Never alter your PFD. Give it a trial
test in shallow water. Does it hold you up so that you can
Help children pick a PFD with a good fit and make sure they wear
it during any boating activity.
TIP: Think about buying a life jacket as a gift for a friend or
loved one! How about an infant jacket as a baby shower gift?
There are many new types and styles. The days of the big, bulky
& uncomfortable life jackets are gone! Inflatable type PFD's are
a great alternative and available from manufacturers such as
Stearns, Inc, Mustang Survival, SoSpenders.
PFD's are Survival Equipment - Treat Them With Respect!
For your PFD to work, it has to be kept in good condition. So be
sure to always air-dry it thoroughly before stowing it in an
accessible place on board. Check it twice a year for mildew,
leaks, insecure straps, or hardened stuffing. Don't crush the
PFD with heavy weight and avoid contact with oil or grease-these
cause some PFD materials to deteriorate and lose buoyancy. Many
of these life jackets are now of the inflatable PFD type and
will inflate automatically on impact with water,
Boaters Must Meet These PFD Requirements...
To meet Coast Guard boating requirements, you must have the
proper type and number of PFD's aboard.
All boats regardless of length must have:
One of Types I, II, III or V for each person aboard;
Boats 16 feet and over must have one Type IV (throw able device)
in addition to the requirement above.
So why Are PFD's So Important?
More than 90% of deaths in boating are from drowning. And 80% of
those drowning victims were not wearing a personal floatation
device. It's important to wear a PFD! They protect against
drowning and can help protect against hypothermia - because
exposure to cold water is another major killer in boating
accidents. Don't take chances, wear your PFD!
Buoyancy Means You'll Float. If You Wear One!
Most adults need an extra 7 to 12 pounds of buoyancy to keep
their head above water. Below is a list of minimum buoyancies
for each type of PFD:
Type I ----------------------------------- 22 lbs.
Type II ---------------------------------- 15.5 lbs.
Type III --------------------------------- 15.5 lbs.
Ring Buoy ------------------------------- 16.5 lbs.
Boat Cushion ----------------------------18 lbs.
Hybrid inflatable -------------------------22 / 7.5 lbs.
Special use device ----------------------15.5 to 22 lbs.
Here's the Most Important Fact About Lifejackets!
Life...Life-Vest...PFD...or Personal Floatation Devise. No
matter what you call it -It won't work if you don't Wear it!
The five types of Lifejackets
TYPE I - Offshore Lifejacket
This PFD is designed for extended survival in rough, open water.
It usually will turn an unconscious person face-up and has 22
pounds of buoyancy. This is the best PFD to keep you afloat in
remote regions where rescue may be slow coming.
TYPE II - Near Shore Life Vest
This "classic" PFD comes in several sizes for adults and
children and is for calm inland water where there is chance of
fast rescue. It is less bulky and less expensive than a Type I,
and many turn an unconscious person face-up in the water.
TYPE III - Floatation Aid
These lifejackets are generally considered the most comfortable,
with styles for different boating activities and sports. They
are for use in calm water where there is good chance of fast
rescue since they will generally not turn an unconscious person
face-up. Floatation aids come in many sizes and styles.
TYPE IV - Throw able Device
These are designed to be thrown to a person in the water. Throw
able devices include boat cushions, ring buoys, and horseshoe
buoys. They are not designed to be worn and must be supplemented
by a wearable PFD. It is important to keep these devices
immediately available for emergencies, and they should not be
used for small children, non-swimmers, or unconscious people.
TYPE V - Special Use Devise
Special use PFD's include work vests, deck suits, and hybrids
for restricted use. Hybrid vests contain some internal buoyancy
and are inflatable to provide additional flotation.
What You Need to Know about Life Vests for Children
What Is a Life Vest?
A life vest or a life jacket is a Coast Guard approved personal
flotation device (PFD) that helps you and your child float and
stay warm in the water.
Why Should Your Child Wear a Life Vest?
Drowning is often silent, takes as little as five minutes and
usually happens when an adult is nearby. No one can watch a
child every second. Here are guidelines for wearing PFD's:
· Children between birth and five years: on beaches, docks and
· Children between the ages of 6-11: on docks, boats, inner
tubes and river banks.
· Teens and adults: on boats or inner tubes.
Buying a Life Vest:
There are different types of life vests: Types I, II, III and
IV. Type I is for boating in severe conditions where rescue may
be delayed. Type LV is a boat cushion or rescue ring. It does
not replace a wearable PFD and should not be used by children.
The types most helpful for near-shore recreational boating are:
· Type Il—good for calm, inland water where there is a good
chance of fast rescue. Smaller sizes often have high collars to
help keep a child’s face out of the water.
· Type III — provides similar flotation to Type IL and offers
the most comfort and freedom of movement. It comes in a variety
of styles and sizes, from small child through adult. It is also
best used in calm water where there’s a good chance of fast
· Buy your child a PFD — there may not be one that fits to rent
When Buying a Life Vest Check for
· Coast Guard approved label.
· A snug fit. Check weight and size on the label and try the PFD
on your child. Pick up your child by the shoulders of the PFD;
the child’s chin and ears won’t slip through a proper fit.
· Head support for younger children. A well designed PFD will
support the child’s head when the child is in the water.
· A strap between the legs for younger children. This is a good
feature because it helps prevent the vest from coming off.
· Comfort and appearance. This is especially important for
teens, who are less likely to wear a PFD.
How Do You Use a Life Vest?
· Every spring, check the life vest for fit as well as wear and
tear. Throw it away if you find air leakage, mildew, rot or
· If a child panics in the water and thrashes about, he may turn
onto his face, even though a PFD with a collar is designed to
keep him on his back with face out of the water. Have your child
practice wearing a life vest in the water — this will help
prevent panic and rolling over.
· Never alter a PFD. It could lose its effectiveness.
· Wear your own life vest to set an example, and to help your
child if an emergency occurs.
· Never use toys like plastic rings or water wings in place of a