February 22, 2008
PFD: Personal Flotation Device – A Must!
Most of us I'm sure associate wearing a PFD with being uncomfortable, dorky, a novice boater, or someone who can't swim. They're not fashionable, they're hot to wear in the summer or in warmer climates, and they just get in the way. For these reasons, I think many boaters don't wear them. Unfortunately, the majority of boating fatalities and drownings could have been prevented by simply wearing a PFD. We all think we're great swimmers, excellent boaters, or that it could never happen to us – but the truth is it can and we should be ready.
Whether you're a marine patrol officer, sailing coach, or a recreational boater, there are some great life jacket options out there that are comfortable, subtle (no more orange horseshoe) and non restrictive, and even fashionable. Some are no bigger than a small pouch that you wear like a belt, others are inflatable that stay deflated in a small harness that you wear around your neck, and then there are vests that are designed for children and sporting activities like kayaking and sailing, that don't hinder movement.
Belt Pack Inflatables:
Belt pack inflatables are great for adults who can swim well enough that they can keep their heads above water with the aid of a vest-style PFD. The catch with the belt packs is you have to be able to manually activate the inflation valve by pulling a lanyard. You can get these with an automatic inflation device, but the belt packs don't keep the head above water should you be unconscious – they simply help to keep you afloat.
A harness style inflatable offers much better protection as it will help hold your head above water. They are made of a lightweight nylon that consists of a yoke-style collar around your neck. Some are lined with a wetsuit like material around the collars for added comfort. Just as important as the great safety factor of these, the harness style inflatables are cool in hot climates and are often hardly noticeable when wearing. What's more they don't restrict movement. Most marine patrol officers wear this style of PFD for just this reason. Harness inflatables are also great because many come with a stainless steel eye ring that allows the wearer to clip themselves to the boat if out in rough weather.
INFLATABLE PFDs ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN.
For children and for sports where you're in the water (skiing & wakeboarding), or near to the water (sailing, kayaking), a vest PFD does not require inflation to work and is designed to say in position when the person falls in to the water. This offers incredible support and insures the person floats properly. The good news is that these are designed allow for full body movement. Once you've got one on you hardly notice you're wearing it.
Always Wear One
Wearing a PFD is so important – it should not be overlooked. You wouldn't think of getting into a car these days without buckling up – wearing a life jacket should be no different. Most drownings occur after the victim accidentally falls overboard. In most cases the victim is only a short distance away from the boat or help, but often people can't get there quick enough.
It's good practice to always wear a PFD and secure the kill switch lanyard to you whenever out on your boat – especially when boating alone.
Posted by ribcraftusa at February 22, 2008 11:03 AMBack To Index