The Importance of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) Explained


Imagine yourself enjoying a peaceful day out on the water. You feel the gentle breeze against your face as you navigate the waves. Suddenly, the unexpected happens – you lose your balance and find yourself submerged in the water. Panic sets in as you struggle to keep your head above water.

This is where a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), commonly known as a life jacket, becomes your lifesaver. PFDs provide the extra buoyancy needed to keep you afloat until help arrives. It’s not just your weight that determines the amount of “extra lift” you require; factors such as body fat, lung capacity, clothing, and water conditions also play a significant role.

The Variety of Life Jackets

Life jackets come in different types and styles, each suited for various activities and buoyancy levels. New labeling standards help users identify which life jackets are best suited for specific activities and provide appropriate buoyancy.


Understanding PFD Facts

Here are some essential facts about PFDs:

  • Type I and Type II life jackets are designed to turn an unconscious person face up, with Type I offering the highest buoyancy.
  • All life jackets must be approved by the United States Coast Guard and be in good condition.
  • It is crucial to have easy access to your life jacket, but wearing it is even better.
  • Select the right size – a life jacket should not be able to be pulled up past the ears.
  • The type of boating you engage in will determine the kind of life jacket you need.
  • Ski belts are not considered legal life jackets in Connecticut.
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Special PFD Requirements in Connecticut

In Connecticut, additional requirements apply during specific periods. From October 1st to May 31st, anyone aboard a manually propelled vessel must wear a Type I, II, III, or V USCG-approved PFD. Additionally, recreational vessel operators or owners must ensure that all children twelve years old and under wear a PFD unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

Proper Testing and Care

It’s important to ensure that your PFD fits properly and functions correctly. Take the following steps:

  1. Try on your life jacket to ensure a snug and comfortable fit.
  2. Test your life jacket in shallow water to check its buoyancy and performance.
  3. Your life jacket should keep your chin above water, allowing you to breathe easily.


To maintain the effectiveness and longevity of your life jacket, follow these care tips:

  • If your life jacket doesn’t fit properly, replace it with one that does.
  • Never use your life jacket as a kneeling pad or boat fender, as it can lose buoyancy when crushed.
  • Allow your life jacket to drip dry thoroughly before storing it in a well-ventilated area.
  • Avoid leaving your life jacket on board for extended periods when the boat is not in use.
  • Refrain from drying your life jacket on direct heat sources.
  • Personalize your life jacket by writing your name on it.
  • Practice throwing your Type IV PFD, as cushions throw best underhand.
  • Adhere to regular service requirements for inflatables.

Remember, East Coast Paddle Sports understands the importance of PFDs in keeping you safe on the water. Visit their website to find the perfect PFD that suits your needs.

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With the right PFD and proper care, you can confidently enjoy your time on the water, knowing that you have a reliable and essential safety measure by your side. Stay safe and have fun!

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