Life jackets, or Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), are designed to give you more bouyancy and to help you stay afloat if you should find yourself in a water emergency. In general, the US Coast Guard requires boaters to carry PFDs while on-board. However, a life jacket does not do you much good if it is not properly fitting or not made for the specific sport in mind. Here at AVA, we are all about safety and to help educate you we have dished out the 411 on life jackets, take a look below!
Types of PFDs:
There are 5 types of PFDs. However, most paddlers use a Type III or V.
Type III: Flotation Aids. These are suitable for most padders where there is a chance for a quick rescue. They offer freedom of movement and the most comfort for continuous wear. Type IIIs are designed so wearers can put themselves in a face-up position, but they may have to tilt their head back to avoid being face down in water.
Type V: Special-use Devices. These are specialized PFDs for specific activities. To be acceptable by the USCG, they must be used for the activity specified on the label. Varieties include kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, hybrid vests and deck suits.
PFD Sizing & Fitting:
A PFD should be snug and fit like a glove, yet allow you to move freely. Each PFD will have a different design and foam placement to fit the contours of the body. Foam placement has more to do with comfort than safety. The more straps a PFD has, the more adjustments can be made to customize its fit. When first slipping your PFD on, you will want to loosen all the straps and then tighten them once you buckle the buckles, or zip up. When tightening the straps you want to start at the bottom and work your way up. To make sure your PFD is fitting appropriately have someone pull up on the PFD shoulders. If it moves up past your nose or head, tighten the straps. If it still moves up, the PFD is too large.
The river is a natural environment and deserves respect. To make sure you have a safe and enjoyable paddling experience you want to make sure you have the appropriate safety gear, one of which being a PFD, or life jacket. Selecting the proper type and right size PFD is crucial for ensuring the maximum personal safety. The river is a enjoyable environment and can create some awesome memories, so make sure you paddle safe to make the best of your river trip.