Learn about the best places to put PFDs on your boat
There can be nothing more enjoyable than spending a day on your boat with your family and friends. However, the safety of your family should be foremost on your mind while planning your trip.
This is probably why people studying for a boating education exam or nautical test often come across the question – ‘Where is the best place to put PFDs while you are out on your boat?’
The correct answer to this question is –
Personal floatation devices (PFD) should be placed on the top deck of the boat while you are out on your boat. It would be best if you placed them where they are easily accessible in case of an accident.
There should be no unnecessary gear or equipment covering the PDFs and causing obstructions. It is best to wear a PFD for the whole duration of the boat trip.
Let us now learn more about PFDs and the best safety practices linked to them.
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What are PFDs?
A personal floatation device (PFD) is boating safety equipment that helps the person wearing it to stay afloat when in water.
A PFD is designed to help keep the head of the person wearing it out of the water, whether he is conscious or unconscious, and prevent drowning.
PFDs come in various sizes, depending on the weight and size of the person wearing it.
They also come with multiple features, and you can choose them according to the level of security and safety required for what they will be used.
For example, you can get PFDs with special features if you need them for water sports. If you are going into cold water, you may need PFDs with extra thermal protection.
Is there a difference between PFDs and life jackets?
PFDs and life jackets serve the same purpose. They are both meant to keep people afloat and prevent drowning.
They are both very similar, and people often use the two names interchangeably.
However, the two floatation devices have a few features that differentiate them from one another:
Best place to put PFDs on a boat
Boating rules and regulations are updated continuously. You must keep up to date on all safety regulations, including the use of PFDs.
Read on as we explain to you the best place to put PFDs while you are out on your boat –
- You should put all PFDs in a well-known, clearly visible part of the boat. The boat’s top deck is the best part for PFDs as this is where all the passengers are seated.
- You should put all PFDs in an open box in a safe corner where they are visible to everyone. They should be easily accessible and not obstructed or covered with any equipment.
- The PFDs should be easy to reach in case of an emergency. Being able to put them on in the case of emergency is of prime importance.
Other PFD requirements
- There should be one PFD per person on your boat.
- Each person should try on the PFD, to see that it fits properly before going on board.
- Knowing the right size of PFD is essential, and it is usually based on the person’s weight and chest size. The only exceptions to this rule are children less than 20lbs and people with chest sizes more than 140 cm.
- According to the coast guard boating laws, all children who are 13 years or younger should wear PFDs at all times during the ride on a boat.
- Adults are also recommended to wear PFDs at all times, but it is not compulsory.
- If you are taking your dog out on your boat, you should take a canine floatation device with you. Though dogs are known to be good swimmers, it is better to be careful to prevent any mishaps.
- If your boat is longer than 16 feet, you will also need a minimum of one type-4 PFD on board.
- PFDs in poor condition are not considered approved.
- A person towed behind a boat is also considered on board. For example, if you are waterskiing, you also need a PFD.
- Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use for children under the age of 16 years.
- Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use during impact activities like water skiing or operating a private watercraft.
Children and PFDs
These mishaps can be easily avoided if the children wear US Coast Guard-approved PFDs.
Though the laws about at which age children should be wearing floatation devices differ from state to state, we can’t disregard their importance.
You must also ensure that the PFDs being worn by the children fit correctly and are well-maintained.
You may be interested in learning about life jacket laws for children in your state.
What to look for when buying PFDs for children?
Here are some of the critical features that you must look out for when buying a PFD for a child –
- A label stating that it is coast guard approved
- Grab strap
- A collar or head support
- Proper size for the child’s weight
- Sturdy and rustproof zipper
- Strong buckle with safety strap
How to test PFDs for children?
When testing PFDs for children, you should take special precautions.
- Teach your child to wear the PFD or life jacket in the least amount of time.
- In terms of the percentage of body weight, a child’s head weighs more. This factor may affect the way a floatation device works.
- Children also tend to panic and may not be able to wear PFDs properly during an emergency. Get them used to wear PFDs at all times when on a boat.
- Children under 9 kg of weight do not wear floatation devices. Adult supervision is of utmost importance in such cases.
What to look for while buying a PFD?
Here are some of the features that you must look for when choosing a PFD –
- Check for a label or seal that states that the PFD is approved by the Coast Guard.
- Choose one that suits the activity that you will be doing.
- Check that the PFD you are buying fits your size and weight. If you buy a PFD that is too small, it will not support your weight in water.
- Check that the PFD fits you snugly but allows freedom of movement at the same time.
- Choose a bright colored PFD so that you are more visible to those trying to assist you during a mishap.
- When choosing a PFD for someone else, make sure you choose one that fits them well.
How to test your PFDs?
Wear your PFD and step into water that is at least chest-deep.
You should then bend your knees and float on your back.
Confirm that your PFD keeps your chin out of the water so that it is easy for you to breathe.
How to wear a floatation device in the water?
Follow these instructions to learn how to wear a floatation device in water –
- Spread the device open with the inside facing up out of the water.
- Rotate the device to look at the neck opening.
- Extend both arms through the arm openings.
- Lift arms over the head.
- Position the device around the upper body.
- Fasten the device to fit snugly.
How to take care of your PFDs?
It is essential to take care of your PFDs when not in use to prevent damage.
Maintaining PFDs will keep them serviceable for longer, and you will not need to replace them as often and thus save money.
Here are a few simple steps to take care of your PFDs-
- Rinse any PFD that has been in seawater with fresh water.
- Use an environmentally-friendly soap of mild strength if needed. Rinse well with fresh water.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals, detergents, and gasoline to clean PFDs.
- Drip dry the PFDs away from the harsh exposure of the sun and other heat sources.
- Once completely dry, store all PFDs in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and moisture.
- Check routinely for holes, rips, and tears.
- Ensure that the zippers, straps, and seams are in proper condition.
Final thoughts on best place to put PFDs while you are out on your boat?
Accidents can happen no matter how responsible and experienced a boat owner you are.
Keeping up with the safety information and law changes from the US Coast Guard is vital for the safety of everyone on board.
I hope you now know the answer to the question –