Understanding life jacket and personal flotation device types

Life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) are essential to safe boating. The state of Florida has its own unique laws and requirements when it comes to the possession and use of personal flotation devices. In those requirements, there are mentions of Type I, II, III, IV, and V PFDs. In this blog, we’ll spend some time digging into what those types are and what they mean to boat owners.

Type I Personal Flotation Device

These devices are typically used for higher speeds and rougher waters. With a minimum buoyancy of 22 pounds for adults, Type I personal floatation devices are designed to turn anyone who is unconscious face up in water. While Type I life jackets offer the best protection, they tend to be more uncomfortable for the wearer.

Also Read: Do Your Life Jackets Fit Kids?

Type II Personal Floatation Device

Less buoyant at 15.5 pounds for adults, Type II Personal Flotation Devices are better suited for inland boating and boating near the shore. These life jackets aren’t designed for rougher waters and wearers will have to do some treading of water to keep their heads above the surface.

Type III Personal Flotation Device Device

More comfortable than Type I or Type II PFDs, Type III PFDs are best for boaters and passengers who are boating near shore. These types of life jackets are not designed for extended use or use in rough waters.

Type IV Thowable Device

Type IV devices aren’t traditional life jackets, but rather throwable devices designed to help an individual who has gone overboard. These can be rings or a cushion style, the second of which provides a little additional buoyancy.

These types of devices must be readily available for use at all times while the boat is in motion. A device in storage or under a seat is not considered readily available.

It’s important to note that there are also inflatable flotation devices, and this blog only covers inherently buoyant PFDs. Always make sure you understand your state-specific regulations as it relates to PFDs on your boat.