Friday, January 25, 2008


You must have at least one, U.S. Coast Guard approved, wearable PFD for each person onboard, and it must be the appropriate size. If your boat is 16 feet or longer you must also have one throwable device (Type IV PFD). Check your states regulations.

PFDs are categorized by Type, Type I, II, III, IV or V. Types I, II and III are worn by recreational boaters, while Type IVs are throwable devices such as life rings and buoyant cushions. Type Vs are for special uses.
When considering a Type I II or III - remember that the lower the number the better the performance. ( Type I is better than a Type II.)
Types I II or III may be buoyant, they will float without action by the wearer, or they may be inflatable (oral and manual inflation at a minimum), or a combination of both. Select a PFD based on your activities and the water conditions.

TEST - Put your life jacket on. It should fit properly with all zippers, straps, ties and snaps secured.
If you have a inflatable PFD and you want to test it remove the CO2 cylinder (and if the PFD has an automatic feature, remove the water-sensing element). Put your life jacket on and inflate it. Then test it like an inherently buoyant PFD.
Because of the design, ride-up is not an issue with inflatable PFDs. The amount of buoyancy provided with inflatable PFDs makes it hard to swim on your stomach when the PFD is properly secured. Its best to side stroke or back stroke.

Don't use it as a knee pad or fender, it can lose buoyancy when crushed.
Don't let your PFD lie out in the sun when the boat is not in use. Sunlight weakens some synthetic fabrics.
Let your PFD drip dry before putting it away.
If your PFD has been in salt water, rinse it with fresh water.
Stow your PFD in a well ventilated place.
Check your PFD for rips, tears, and holes and make sure seams, straps and hardware are okay.
Do make sure there is no sign of water-logging, mildew odor, or shrinkage of the buoyant materials.
Check and replace spent cartridges in inflatable PFDs.
Put your name on your PFD if you are the only wearer. It will keep you from putting on one that is not sized for you.
Test all your PFDs at the start of the boating season.
Discard old PFDs by cutting them up and properly disposing of them.

If your PFD has a zipper use some lubrication.
If your PFD has kapok squeeze them and listen for air, sometimes they get pin holes in the kapok.