Whether you call it a life jacket, life vest, life preserver or a PFD, they’re designed with one purpose in mind, to save your life. A life jacket is the single most important piece of equipment on your boat. More than 2/3 of all boating fatalities are drowning victims and over 90% were not wearing their PFD. With an increasing amount of people recreating on the water, it is more important than ever to wear your life jacket.
Different Types of PFD’s
PFD’s are categorized by Type, i.e. Type 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Depending on what you’re doing and where you’re doing it, you will need to have the right Type of PFD. Type 1, 2 and 3 are worn by recreational boaters. When considering a Type 1, 2 or 3 keep in mind that generally the lower the number the better the performance (Type 1 is better than Type 3). Type 4 are throwable like a life ring or buoyant cushions. Type 5 are specialty PFD’s like for rescue workers or better suited for winter etc.
There is also a newer category called Inflatable PFD’s. This type of PFD is great a choice for fishing, canoeing, standup paddle boarding, kayaking and boating. These too are labeled with Type classifications but being fairly new it is important to make sure that inflatable PFD’s are allowed in the watershed that you use (regulations are usually available that are specific to the area you are at.) Choosing the right life jacket will not only enhance your activity but make your experience more comfortable.
Requirements for Life Jakcet’s: (We follow the Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations)
- There must be a sufficient number of PFD’s (client and guide)
- Must have a spare
- Proper Type (reference above)
- Proper size and fit (adult, children, XXX size)
- Good working condition
- Securely Fastened
I can’t stress enough how important this is. Without a proper fit, your life jacket is not set up for success and should not be counted on to keep you afloat in an emergency. Every company has its own sizing chart whether its specific sizes XS – Universal or Child, Youth and Adult. Within that, PFD’s have their own fit system. This can range from straps with buckles to zippers or both zippers and buckles and each system will fit differently. Be sure to try them on and see which system is for you. Once on, your PFD should fit snug but be comfortable. All straps, buckles and zippers must be fastened in order for your life jacket to work properly. Be sure to take your time and thoroughly look over your life jacket and the people on your boat.
“It’s too hot!” “It’s not comfortable.” “I’ve done this rapid a hundred times.” “I know this river like the back of my hand.” Too often I hear these excuses as a valid reason not to wear a life jacket, there is no reason not to wear a life jacket. As we hear in this town in reference to knee injuries, “It’s not a matter of if but when.” Well this could not be a truer statement when it comes to a sufficient enough reason to wear a PFD. Today’s PFD’s come in all shapes and colors and are even sport specific so – “No Excuses”.
A PFD for Every Lifestyle
There is a life jacket for everyone so if you get one you like then you will use it. There are hundreds of choices when considering buying a PFD. Some are sport specific and in our case, there are fishing PFD’s. If you’re fashion conscious, they come in all colors. They even make life jacket’s for pets. With this many choices it should be easy to find one you like.
This should not be taken lightly and the sole responsibility is on you. Lead by example and wear your PFD. Be responsible and require everyone on your boat to wear a PFD. Educate your guests, family and friends about the PFD and how to properly use it. Have a sufficient amount on your boat so that everyone is outfitted with one. And know that the very life you save may just be your own. Just like seatbelts, when you wish you were wearing one it is already too late.
The next time you’re on the water decide how important your life and someone else’s is to you and make the right decision. You can have just as much fun with a PFD on as you can without one. Get outside, Be Safe and Wear your PFD.