Personal Flotation Device (Life Jackets) Basics

Life jackets save lives when worn. It’s as simple as that.

Here are a few tips and basic instructions to help ensure that, if the unthinkable should happen when you are out on the water, everyone gets home safely:

1. Make sure that the PFD (personal flotation device) is a U. S. Coast Guard approved and UL-Listed one. Inflatable rings and wings are no substitute and should never be used in lieu of an approved life jacket.

2. Make sure that everyone on-board has one. NO EXCEPTIONS. It doesn’t matter how good a swimmer you are, or think you are, you wear your PFD. Many drowning happen when someone is knocked unconscious or swept away by the current. Swimming isn’t going to save you, your life jacket is.

3. Make sure that the PFD is the right one for the person it’s being assigned to. Check sizes and weight. A life jacket that’s too big will slip off when needed most and one that’s too small won’t hold the wearer high enough out of the water.

4. Inspect your PFD before you leave. Check for tears, rips and deterioration of straps. Make sure the buckles work properly. Additionally, you should check your PFD for buoyancy at least once a year.

5. Do not store your PFD in an area while they will be exposed to the sun or dry them out using some kind of heat source (heater, radiator, etc…). Let them air dry. Heat and exposure to the sun can deteriorate the straps and the fabric of the PFD.

6. If your craft is over 16 feet, you also are required to have a type IV throwable device as well.

Everyone loves boating, fishing, cruising along the shore, etc… but for too many people, what started out as a day of fun turned into a day of tragedy. Don’t let it happen to you and your loved ones.