According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 85 percent of boating accident drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. These deaths are senseless as they are entirely preventable by wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) commonly referred to as a life jacket. Simply put, vehicles and airplanes have seatbelts in place for your safety so why shouldn’t you take proper safeguards while boating?
The United States Coast Guard states that all boaters should wear their life jacket while aboard a boat. Though the State of Texas does not require adults wear a PFD, children under the age of 13 must wear an approved PFD while aboard a watercraft.
With a variety of life jackets to choose from, there are plenty of options to tailor to your specific body type, since the best life jacket is one you’ll actually wear.
When selecting a life jacket, it’s essential to find the correct size. There are standard PFDs sized by weight and chest size. The trick is choosing one that fits. The PFD should be snug enough not come up past your ears while in the water.
The most common type of PDF available for sale is the standard pillow form due to their low-maintenance and versatile appeal. Others may prefer less bulk and opt for inflatable PFDs whose slender and cozy appearance enable kayakers or paddle boarders a free range of motion that would often be obstructed by a standard PFD. One major limitation of inflatable PFDs is the manual version poses a hazard if unconscious and unable to pull the cord to inflate. Because of this, inflatable PFDs are also available in an automatic design that inflates when immersed in water.
Be sure to read the USCG label for instructions for each type of PFD. Life jackets are classified as Type I, II, III, or V. All vessels must be supplied with one Type I, II, III or V for each person on board. Any boat 16-feet and longer must carry a throwable PFD called a Type IV while canoes and kayaks are exempt from carrying a throwable PFD.
Wearing a life jacket is the best precaution you can take during recreational activities on the water. For more information on the types of life jackets, or how to choose the correct one for you, click here or here.