Watercraft Safety - Life Jackets
There's no question that PFD's (Personal Flotation Device), or life jackets, save lives. According to recent Boating statistics* released by the U.S. Coast Guard, almost 75% of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Approximately 88% of those who drowned were NOT wearing a life jacket.
It's the Law
Federal Requirements require all recreational boats to carry one wearable PFD (Type I, II, III or Type V PFD) for each person aboard. A Type V PFD provides performance of either a Type I, II, or III (as marked on its label), and must be used according to the label requirements. Any boat 16ft and longer (except canoes and kayaks) must also carry one throwable PFD (Type IV PFD).
PFDs must be
- Coast Guard approved,
- in good and servicable condition and
- the appropriate size for the intended user.
When selecting a life jacket, make sure it fits the conditions you will be experiencing. Each type is designed for specific types of water and some will NOT turn a victim face up if unconscious.
TYPE I - Off Shore Life Jacket
TYPE II - Near Shore Life Vest
TYPE III - Flotation Aid
Rremember: The lower the number, the better the performance.
Type IV - Throwable Device
Type V - Special Use Device
- When purchasing a life jacket for a child, remember One Size does NOT Fit All. Be sure to check the "User Weight" on the label They can be marked "less than 30," "30 to 50," "less than 50," or "50 to 90."
- Always look for the United States Coast Guard approval number before you purchase any life jacket, and make sure you understand the regulations and requirements in your state. Also ensure you properly maintain whatever life jacket you choose.
* Statistics taken from the Comdtpub P16754.24 2010 Recreational Boating Statistics, United States Coast Guard. Images courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.