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5 Types of PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices)

It is the job of the boat owner to ensure that their vessel has all of the legally required equipment on board. All recreational vessels must have at least one Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (life jacket) that is U.S. Coast-Guard-approved and of the proper size for each person on board or be towed.

It is important to know the differences between the types of life jackets and life vests. Each one has its own specific purpose.

There are five types of PFDs (Personal Flotation Device) that I am going to talk about today. I also am going to talk about Idaho-specific rules and regulations for PFDs.

5 Types of Personal Flotation Devices

Type I: Offshore Life Jackets

These vests are designed for rough or remote waters where rescue may take some time. They provide the most buoyancy, are excellent for flotation, and will turn most unconscious persons face up in the water.

Type II: Near-Shore Vests

These are most appropriate for use in calm waters when quick rescue is likely. While very buoyant, these vests may not turn some unconscious wears face up in the water.

Type III: Flotation Aids

These life jackets (vests) are great for calm waters where a rescue if needed, would be quick. These are not recommended for rough waters since they will not turn most unconscious people face up. These are the most common for wakeboarders, skiers, and surfers.

Type IV: Throwable Devices

According to Idaho Boating Laws, any vessels 16 feet in length or longer (except canoes and kayaks of any length) must have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV PFD on board and readily accessible. Since a Type IV is not designed to be worn, it is neither for rough waters or for anyone who is unable to hold on to it.

Type V: Special-Use Devices

These are often developed and customized specifically for specific sports such as kayaking, wakeboarding, or windsurfing.

To be acceptable, Type V PFDs must be used in accordance with their label.

As you learn how best to keep you and yours safe on your boat, make sure you keep up to date with Idaho boating laws and responsibilities. If you’d like an Idaho Boating Laws and Responsibilities Handbook, swing by Precision Boats. We have one for you!