PFD Types: Do You Know the Difference?

PFD Types: Do You Know the Difference?

Now that the weather is finally warming up, now is a good time to stock up on any safety gear you may need this boating season. One of the most important avenues that you should never overlook is Personal Flotation Devices or PFDs. Also known as life vests or life jackets, personal flotation devices can help save your life in an emergency.
Types of PFDs
Before you head out and purchase one, do you know about the different PFD types? Which PFD you choose will depend on what you are using them for, so it is vital you know of the various kinds of PFDs. NYMTA wants you to remain safe on the water. Read on to learn more about the different types of PFDs and what they are recommended for.

Type I (Off-Shore Life Jacket)

Type I PFDs are best for all water types, such as the open ocean, of if you are in rough or remote water. Type I PFDs should be used if you are in a location where you would have to wait for rescue to arrive. Due to this, Type I PFDs are used as the “abandon ship” life jacket you see on commercial vessels. The minimum amount of buoyancy required for Type I PFDs is 22 lbs.

Type II (Near-Shore Buoyant Vests)

If you are in a location where you have a good chance of being rescued quickly, a Type II life jacket is appropriate. Type II PFDs are good for general boating activities and are meant for calm inland waters. Avoid using this life jacket if you are heading out into the ocean or rough seas. The minimum amount of buoyancy required for Type II PFDs is 15.5 lbs.

Type III (Flotation Aids)

A Type III PFD is also meant for calm, inland waters where you have a good chance of being rescued in a timely fashion. Do not use this kind of flotation device for rough seas or the open ocean. Type III PFDs are meant for general boating, or for specific water-sport activities, such as kayaking, water skiing, etc. The minimum amount of buoyancy required for Type III PFDs is 15.5 lbs.

Type IV (Throwable Devices)

Throwable devices or Type IV PFDs are devices that you throw to someone overboard, who is in distress. You do not wear this type of PFDs, so having wearable life jackets on board is still required. Type IV PFDs include horseshoe buoys, boat seat cushions, and ring buoys. The minimum amount of buoyancy needed for Type IV PFDs is 16.5 lbs.

Type V (Special Use Devices)

Special use devices or Type V PFDs are only used for special purposes and situations and are usually have their limits of use on the label. Type V PFDs are typically used for boardsailing, kayaking, commercial vessels, and law enforcement. Special use devices are used for man overboard situations and also include hybrid inflatables, which can be inflated on demand. The minimum amount of buoyancy required for Type V PFDs is 15.5 – 22 lbs., while hybrid inflatables have a buoyancy of 22 – 34 lbs.



New York Marine Trades Association
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