Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
A Personal Flotation Device (PFD), or more commonly known as a
Life Jacket, is an important safety device that should accompany
every kayak and kayaker. In fact, the State of Florida requires
all boats, motorized or not, to have a flotation device for every
person on the boat. Additionally, each boat is required to have
a noise making device. Most kayakers will attach a whistle to their
PFD to comply with this law.
There are a number of different types and styles of PFDs available.
Type I PFDs are very bulky and are generally used as "life jackets"
on larger offshore vessels. Type II are defined as Near-Shore Buoyant
Vests. For kayaking, most people will purchase a U.S. Coast Guard
approved Type III vest-style flotation aid. Type III vests
are designed for continuous use and are fairly comfortable. Types
IV and V are throwable and special use devices.
It's important the PFD works and fits properly. A PFD should allow
you to move your arms without interference, but should not be so
loose that it floats above your head when you're in the water. The
PFD needs to be short enough so that it does not interfere with
your spray skirt. For kayaking, the PFD should have at least one
pocket to store rescue items, such as flares or a strobe. Most PFDs
will come with a plastic tab or ring that can be used to clip on
whistles or knives.
A note about wearing a PFD. Yes, it's hot in Florida. Yes, you
see many PFDs strapped to the rear decks of kayaks. However hot
and ugly they are, a good PFD is one item that you may not be able
to live without. 'Nuff said.