The Outdoor World

Life Vests

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Information about Lifevests or Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) from Stearns

Type II - Near-Shore Buoyant Vest

Good for calm, inland water, or where there is good chance of fast rescue

Turns some unconscious wearers face-up in the water

Minimum of 15.5 lbs. of buoyancy

PFDs come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. Be sure to choose one that is right for you and the water conditions you expect to encounter.

Refer to the “Think Safe” booklet attached to each PFD for additional information about PFDs, or contact Stearns

Type III - Flotation Aid

Generally the most comfortable type for continuous wear

Good for calm inland water, or where there is good chance of fast rescue

Available in many styles, including vests and flotation jackets

PFDs come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. Be sure to choose one that is right for you and the water conditions you expect to encounter

Refer to the “Think Safe” booklet attached to each PFD for additional information

Type V - Special Use Devices

Only for special uses or conditions

Made for specific activities

Varieties include boardsailing vests, deck suits, pullover vests, work vests, some hybrid PFDs. Some Type V PFDs are approved only when worn.

PFDs come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. Be sure to choose the one that is right for you and the water conditions you expect to encounter.

Guidelines for Selecting PFD for your Child

Children’s PFDs are sized according to weight range and chest size. Weigh your child and measure their chest under the arms before you go to pick one out.

Be sure to try the PFD on the child in the store. Be sure it fits snugly. To test it, lift the child up by the shoulders of the PFD to make sure it will not slip over the chin or ears.

A child is difficult to float in a face up position because of the distribution of the body weight and a child’s tendency to struggle or attempt to climb out of the water. If one does not work well, try another style.

Crotch straps are particularly important on children’s PFDs, as they keep the device in place. They should be used whenever the PFD is on. If the child does not swim, a Type II device is recommended to help keep the child face up in the water.

Even though a PFD is designed to keep a child afloat, it does not substitute for supervision. Never leave a child unattended.

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For more information, check out the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety website

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