Types of Personal Flotation Devices. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) go by several different names, including life vests, life jackets, buoyancy aids, and flotation suits. Whether you’re out on the water kayaking or cruising on some other personal watercraft, these devices play an essential role in keeping your safety intact. Even the best swimmers can get caught in a riptide or an undertow, falling into grave danger if they aren’t wearing any PFD.
Generally speaking, there are five types of personal flotation devices you should know about if you want to gear up appropriately under different circumstances:
1- Type I PFD
Type I PFDs, also referred to as ‘life jackets,’ are one of the vital accessories to have with you on all kinds of vessels. The purpose of these devices is to rotate a conscious or unconscious person from a face-down position to a face-up position on the water. It’s important to note that while Type I PFDs are somewhat uncomfortable to wear, they are highly reliable in rough waters. As proof, you can see people wearing them on both recreational and commercial boats for their safety.
2- Type II PFD
Type II PFDs are a simpler version of life jackets. These jackets are also called near-shore buoyant vests, and they’re USCG-approved to use on recreational boats like kayaks, canoes, ski boats, etc. Moreover, these vests are also approved for uninspected commercial vessels that don’t carry any passengers. Unlike Type I PFDs that work well for both conscious and unconscious bodies, Type II PFDs don’t usually rotate that much to help an unconscious person into a face-up position.
However, if you’re going into calm waters and need something inexpensive, Type II would be the perfect go-to essential to get equipped with.
3- Type III PFD
Type III PFDs are recreational devices that are often known as flotation aids. Despite being one of the most comfortable options that offer fluent body movement, it is important to note that these PFDs don’t help much when they are unconscious. While they are designed to hold a slightly vertical and upright back position, the wearer would have to be conscious to lift their head out of the water themselves. These PFDs are meant to be worn in calm waters when you’re water skiing, fishing, kayaking, or indulging in other boating activities.
4- Type IV PFD
Type IV PFDs are throwable devices (like ring buoys, cushions, and horseshoe buoys) intended for use when passengers fall overboard. It is required for every boat over sixteen inches in length to have these personal flotation devices at hand. Furthermore, the person you should throw these PFDs at should be conscious enough to hold themselves right in the water.
5- Type V PFD
Type V PFDs are flotation devices required to be worn in accordance with different activities like water rafting, windsurfing, and kayaking under rough conditions. These jackets can be used as deck suits, boat-sailing vests, and work vests, depending on their specific style.
Your safety should always come first when you’re participating in any water-related activities. While checking your watercraft is something you should ensure each time before going out on the water, it is equally essential to be equipped with the right personal flotation devices in case of an accident!