Personal Flotation Device
Personal Flotation Device Rules
- All vessels must have at least one USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD (life jacket) for each person on board.
- In addition to the requirement for life jackets, one Type IV (throwable) USCG–approved PFD must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer.
- Children under 13 years old must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD whenever above deck on any vessel underway.
- All PFDs must be in good condition, legibly marked with the USCG–approval number, and readily accessible. Wearable PFDs must be the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing is based on body weight and chest size.
Types of PFDs
The differences between the types of PFDs are briefly summarized here. Please use the following links for more specific details regarding different types of USCG approved PFDs:
Type I PFD: Offshore Life Jacket
Best for open, rough, or remote water, where rescue may be slow coming. Provides the most amount of buoyancy (over 22 pounds) and is best for keeping an unconscious person's head out of the water.
Type II PFD: Near-Shore Buoyant Vest
Good for calm or inland water, or where there is a good chance of fast rescue. Less buoyant than Type I and less effective at keeping an unconscious person's head out of the water.
Type III PFD: Flotation Aid
Good for conscious users in inland water and where there is good chance of fast rescue. Less buoyant than Type II and unlikely to keep an unconscious person's head out of the water.
Type IV PFD: Throwable Device
Can be thrown to a person in the water. Includes horseshoes, rings, & other throwables.
Type V PFD: Special Use Device
Only for special uses or conditions. Equal to either Type I, II, or III performance as noted on the label. Must be worn and used in accordance with the specific instructions on the label.