Choosing The Right PFD

How To Select The Right PFD

Boating is a favorite summer past time. Whether it is to water ski, go tubing, or catch some fish, almost everyone enjoys the open water. However, boating is far from the safest hobby in the world. Accidents that occur in open water are dangerous because they add the risk of drowning on top of the other risks that coincide with a vehicle crash. Every boat that plans to go into open water should have PFDs on board. A PFD is also known as a personal flotation device, lifejacket, or life vest.

It is imperative that a boat or ship has enough PFDs for everyone on board, and everyone should be wearing them while the ship is in the water. PFDs are so important that many states require boats to have PFDs approved by the United States Coast Guard. However, there are many different variations of PFDs, and the Coast Guard approves only some of these. It may be hard to find a PFD that is your size, recommended for boating, and meets your boating needs.

Types of PFDs

PFDs come in all shapes and sizes, but they all fall into one of three categories: Adult, Children, and Pet.

For adults who are choosing a PFD for themselves, chest size is the measurement that will determine which size of PFD will fit properly. A PFD should be snug enough that you do not have to worry about losing it, but is loose enough that you can still move freely. If possible, wear clothes you might wear out on to the boat when trying PFDs on. Women will likely find female-specific PFDs to be much more comfortable than a unisex one. All PFDs have different designs and foam placements so that they can better fit the contours of a human body.

Once you have found an adult size that you believe will fit you well, it is imperative that you try it on.

How to put on a PFD

  • Loosen every strap
  • Put the PFD on
  • Zip up the zipper
  • Starting at your waist, tighten all of the straps. The last strap you tighten should be your shoulders
  • Have someone try to pull up on the shoulders. If it remains in place, it is secure. If it raises up, retighten the straps.
  • Make sure you can move in your PFD and that it will not chafe. Try to get a good feel for how it will act while you are doing the activity you plan to do.

PFDs for children work almost identically to PFDs for adults. There is one striking difference, however. The size that an adult should keep in mind while buying their PFD is their chest size, but a for a child it is their waist.

Even our pets require safety equipment when we bring them out onto the water. While many pets may seem like fantastic swimmers, it is always possible that they may get tired or begin to panic too far from shore. Pet PFDs do not have to be Coast Guard certified.

A few things to consider when buying your pet a PFD are:

  • Like a human’s PFD, it should be snug enough that they cannot twist or swim out of the vest.
  • It may be beneficial for the PFD to be low profile. That will lower the chances that your pet gets caught on debris in the water.
  • A PFD with easy release buckles may be a life saver in the event of an emergency.
  • Some pet PFDs come with convenient handles.

Different types of PFDs

There are several different types of PFDs but they may be sorted into five different categories:

  • An offshore life jacket is made for rough waters that may occur in the ocean. They are much bulkier than other types of PFDs, but they are the most buoyant, have bright colors to assist with being spotted if lost at sea and can even turn an unconscious swimmer onto their back so they can breathe.
  • near shore life jacket is a slightly less durable option. These life jackets are bulky and buoyant, but much less so than their far offshore counterparts.
  • Flotation aids are the most comfortable option. Flotation aids are made for people in situations where they may be rescued quickly.
  • Throwable PFDs are floating cushions or ring buoys that may be thrown off a ship to a drowning person in case of an emergency. They provide little except for assistance in staying afloat, so you should not rely on one for very long.
  • There are some PFDs that are made specifically for certain outdoor activities. These activities may include kayaking, windsurfing, or waterskiing. The activity the PFD is made for must be stated on the label.

We hope that this guide to PFDs makes your time out on the water a safer experience, but boating can be fraught with dangers. If you are injured in a boating accident, seek medical help right away and then contact an experienced Mobile personal injury attorney, specializing in boating accidents in Mobile.