As boaters, we all know the importance of having Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) on board. But where is the best place to put them while you’re out on your boat? This question often pops up in nautical education exams and is a topic of interest for both exam takers and seasoned boaters alike. Let’s dive in and explore the ideal storage spots for your PFDs to ensure maximum safety on the water.
What Exactly is a PFD?
Before we get into storage solutions, let’s quickly define what a PFD is. Some people refer to a PFD as a life jacket, but there are slight differences between the two. While both keep you afloat, a PFD offers buoyancy to minimize movement restrictions and allow easier mobility. It’s important to note that a PFD is not designed to keep you dry when you’re in the water.
A PFD is a boating safety gear that keeps your head above water, preventing you from drowning, even if you’re unconscious. They come in different sizes to accommodate users of varying builds and weights. Not only that, but PFDs also offer various features to suit different safety and security needs. From protecting against speed and powerful winds to keeping you warm in cold water, there’s a PFD for every situation.
Storing Your PFDs Onboard
When it comes to storing your PFDs, accessibility is key. You want to place them in a location where you can quickly grab them in case of an emergency. Here’s what you need to know:
Consider the US Coast Guard Guidelines
According to the US Coast Guard, it is highly encouraged to have portable PFDs on board that are the correct size for each passenger. For example, if your boat has four adults and two children, you’ll need four adult-sized PFDs and two children-sized PFDs. The right size depends on an individual’s weight and chest measurement. However, if a person has a chest measurement of 140 cm or is a child below 20 pounds, there are exceptions to this rule. There are specific PFDs designed for children, such as the STEARNS Child Type II, Stohlquist Waterware, and Lifesaving Pro. For adults, some reliable PFD brands include Seachoice, Mustang, Onyx, Astral, and MUSTANG SURVIVAL.
Know the Requirements for Your Boat Size
If your vessel is longer than 16 feet, you’ll need at least four PFDs onboard. It’s crucial to ensure that all the PFDs are free from rips or tears to meet the safety requirements. Additionally, when your boat is being towed behind another ship, the PFDs are essential.
Inflatable PFDs and Sports
While portable inflatable PFDs are a popular choice, they are not recommended for children under 16. They are also not suitable for sports with high impact, such as water skiing. It’s vital to consider the appropriate PFD type for your specific boating activities.
Ideal Storage Locations Onboard
Apart from understanding the usage guidelines, it’s crucial to know the best places to store your PFDs onboard:
- Keep them on the top deck or in an easily accessible area.
- Ensure they are within reach of all passengers.
- Store them in a dry location to prevent water damage.
- Avoid exposing them to excessive heat or direct sunlight.
- Regularly inspect and maintain your PFDs to ensure they are in proper working condition.
PFDs: Not Just for Kids
While it’s crucial for children to wear PFDs, statistics show that 10 US citizens drown every day, and 20% of them are children. However, PFDs are just as important for adults. Let’s explore some essential aspects:
What to Look for in PFDs for Children
When choosing a PFD for a child, always look for a label indicating approval by the Coast Guard. It’s essential to ensure that the PFD fits properly and is well-maintained.
Steps to Wearing a PFD
For adults, it’s crucial to select a PFD that fits well and provides maximum comfort. Follow these steps to ensure proper usage:
- Put your arms through the armholes.
- Fasten the buckles or zippers securely.
- Adjust the straps for a snug fit.
- Make sure the PFD is not too tight or too loose.
Taking Care of Your PFD
To extend the lifespan of your PFD, proper maintenance is essential. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and storing your PFD to ensure its effectiveness in case of an emergency.
PFDs vs. Life Jackets
While PFDs and life jackets serve the same purpose, there are some differences worth noting. Life jackets offer more buoyancy and are designed to keep unconscious individuals afloat by ensuring they can breathe. On the other hand, PFDs are primarily intended for conscious individuals in calm conditions. The buoyancy material in life jackets is located in the front, while in PFDs, it’s located at the rear, making them less bulky and more comfortable for movement. Life jackets often come with a whistle, and their colors are typically orange, red, or yellow. In contrast, PFDs are available in bright colors to enhance visibility in the water.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned boater, safety should always be your top priority. Knowing where to store your PFDs while you’re out on your boat is crucial for emergencies. Keep them in an accessible location, adhere to the US Coast Guard guidelines, and ensure proper maintenance. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy your boating adventures with peace of mind, knowing that you’re prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that might arise.
For more information and to explore high-quality PFDs, visit East Coast Paddle Sports. Stay safe and have fun out on the water!