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Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) Cheat Sheet by

About the different classes of PFD devices
safety     personal     guidelines     devices     recreation     floatation     pfd     boating


The ideal PFD is one that you will wear. It should be comfor­table, provide a secure fit, and offer maximum freedom of movement. All PFDs have advantages and disadv­ant­ages. You should consider the type of boating you do and your boating area, the temper­ature of the water, the probab­ility of quick rescue, and whether or not you are going to wear the PFD every time you board your boat.

Tyoe I PFDS / Off-Shore Life Jackets

Best for all waters, open ocean, rough seas, or remote water, where rescue may be slow coming. Abando­n-ship lifejacket for commercial vessels and all vessels carrying passengers for hire:
Inherently Buoyant Type I PFDs - SOLAS Service
Inherently Buoyant Type I PFDs - U.S. Service
Inflatable Type I PFDs - SOLAS and Domestic
Hybrid Type I PFDs - US Services


For general boating activi­ties. Good for calm, inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue.
Inherently Buoyant Type II PFDs
Inflatable Type II PFDs
Hybrid Type II PFDs


For general boating or the specia­lized activity that is marked on the device such as water skiing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and others. Good for calm, inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue. Designed so that wearing it will complement your boating activi­ties:
Inherently Buoyant Type III PFDs
Inflatable Type III PFDs
Hybrid Type III PFDs

Type V PFDs / Special Use Devices

Only for special uses or condit­ions. See label for limits of use:
Hybrid Inflatable PFDs
Canoe/Kayak Vest
Boardsailing Vests
Deck Suits
Work Vests for Commercial Vessels
Commercial Whitewater Vests
Man-Overboard Rescue Devices
Law Enforc­ement Flotation Devices

PFD Types

PFD Buoyancy

Type PFDs
Minimum Adult Buoyancy in Pounds (Newto­ns)
I - Inflatable
33.0 (150)
I - Buoyant Foam or Kapok
22.0 (100)
II - Inflatable
33.0 (150)
II - Buoyant Foam or Kapok
15.5 (70)
III - Inflatable
22.0 (100)
III - Buoyant Foam
15.5 (70
IV - Ring Buoys
16.5 (75)
IV - Boat Cushions
18.0 (82)
V - Hybrid Inflat­ables
22.0 (Fully inflated) (100)
7.5 (Deflated) (34)
V - Special Use Device - Inflatable
22.0 to 34.0 (100 to 155)
V - Special Use Device - Buoyant Foam
15.5 to 22.0 (70 to 100)

Caring for Your PFD

Follow these points to be sure your PFD stays in good condition:

1. Don't alter your PFD. If yours doesn't fit, get one that does. Play it safe. An altered PFD may not save your life.
2. Don't put heavy objects on your PFD or use it for a kneeling pad or boat fender. PFDs lose buoyancy when crushed.
3. Let your PFD drip dry thoroughly before putting it away. Always stow it in a well-v­ent­ilated place.
4. Don't leave your PFD on board for long periods when the boat is not in use.
5. Never dry your PFD on a radiator, heater, or any other direct heat source.
6. Put your name on your PFD if you're the only wearer.
7. Practice throwing your Type IV PFD. Cushions throw best underhand.

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