Personal Flotation Devices
Who needs them?
Personal flotation devices, or PFDs, are for everybody – from small kids in backyard or public pools, to beginning swimmers of any age, to those who enjoy boating or kayaking.
How should they be used:
- There are several types of PFDs to fit all ages, uses and budgets. These range from the inexpensive horse-collar types to top-of-the-line vests.
- The U.S. Coast Guard requires all boaters to have PFDs, although adults aren’t required to wear them at all times. However, best practice is to always wear your PFD, no matter how calm the water looks.
- If you’re canoeing or kayaking, wear the right clothes under your PFD. Weather conditions can change quickly, and water temperature may be cold. Dress in layers. Fleece or synthetic fabrics that wick away moisture and retain heat are better than cotton.
- Kids who can’t swim should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type II PFD. Kids with more control in the water – who, for instance, can turn over on their back – can move on to a Type III.
- Where kids are concerned, remember that inflatable toys are never a substitute for PFDs.
- Also note that the popular “wings” for children’s arms are not considered lifesaving devices like U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
Content used with permission from the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.
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This content was last modified on: 08/11/2008