Boating Safety 101: Life Jacket Safety Tips

Boating Safety 101: Life Jacket Safety Tips

A life preserver could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. In our last article, we discussed the different type of PFD’s and what they are recommended for. However, there is more to know before you head out this season.
Life Jacket Safety Tips
It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned veteran, or a rookie, brush up on your boating knowledge by checking out our life jacket safety tips.

• Never, EVER alter your PFD and be careful to not “crush” them by placing heavy objects on them or using it as a kneeling pad. A PFD can lose buoyancy if it is crushed.
• Not using your boat? Never leave your PFD on your boat for extended periods of time. Always stow it away in a well-ventilated area.
• Always dry your PFD before stowing it away. Otherwise, you risk mold and mildew growth. Never use a direct heat source to dry your PFD.
• Regularly inspect your PFD for holes, rips, and tears. Also, check on your straps, seams, and hardware to make sure everything still looks in good working order. You don’t want to have mold or mildew growth, or shrinkage of your buoyant materials, so be on the lookout for both.
• Your wearable PFD should fit snugly and comfortable to wear. Your life jacket should never be too big, too small or ride up your body. It is recommended that you try on your wearable PFD before you purchase.
• Ensure that all zippers, ties, and straps are securely fastened on each one of your passengers before you head out. By doing this, your PFD will not only work better but will have a better chance of saving you or your passenger’s life.
In our last article, we mentioned the minimum amount of buoyancy that is required for each device. However, you need to test whether or not your life preserver has the correct buoyancy that is necessary for your weight. To test this, lie on your back in the water and relax. Your PFD should keep your mouth and chin above the water. If not, you need a PFD with a higher buoyancy rating.
• Keep in mind that PFD’s can act differently depending on the situation. Your life jacket can work differently in calm water versus rough water. In addition, even the clothes that you are wearing can have an impact on how your PFD works.
• You want to make sure you are ready in case of an emergency, so prepare by practicing throwing your Type IV PFD.


New York Marine Trades Association
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