As we crawl ever closer to boating season, it’s important to stop and consider your safety practices and equipment. No, safety isn’t the most exciting part of boating, but it’s incredibly important. Before you go have the time of your life on your Crownline, it’s essential to understand the nuances of boating safety and the laws that make boating a healthy and fun activity for everyone. Today, we’re diving deep into personal flotation devices (PFD).
Wake Surfing Boy
As a boat owner, you are legally obligated to carry a PFD for each person on your boat in addition to one throwable. Children under a certain age are required to wear a PFD at all times while on board. The detailed laws regarding when and where you and your passengers need to wear a PFD varies by state. Some states are strict, others are not. Check your local laws frequently to keep up with any changes.

There are five types of personal flotation devices:

Type I: Life Preservers

Life Preserver

Life Preservers are the most effective and versatile PFD. It’s built to keep you safe in open water. If you’re out on rough water, an inexperienced swimmer or participating in water sports, wear one of these.


Type II: Buoyant Vests

Buoyant Vest


If you’re in or on calm water, a Type I PFD isn’t always necessary. They’re designed to help people who could be waiting a long time to be rescued. Instead, grab a Type II for calm days or fishing trips. They’re less bulky and often have a sleeker-looking design.


Type III: Flotation Aids

Floatation Aids


Designed for lakes and most inland water adventures, flotation aids were created for water sports. They give you more maneuverability than a Type I and are more substantial than a Type II. These devices are perfect for skiing, surfing or wakeboarding. If you aren’t a comfortable swimmer, still wear a Type I. If you’re confident, Type III is ideal.


Type IV: Throwable Devices

flotation aids

Throwable Devices are designed to be thrown to people in the water, so they’re perfect for areas with heavy traffic. Throwables are not an adequate replacement for a wearable PFD, but they’re a great place holder. They’ve saved plenty of lives, so make sure to have them on board and easily accessible at all times.

Type V: Hybrid PFD

Life Vest


Hybrid PFD’s aren’t very common for recreational boaters because they’re often reserved for professionals and Coast Guard officials. They’re designed mainly for emergency situations and are often insulated to prevent hypothermia. A Hybrid PFD can replace another wearable but must be worn to count toward the necessary requirements.


Personal Flotation Devices are an extremely important part of recreational boating. It’s crucial to make your passengers aware of their necessity. Be sure to set a good example and adhere to all local safety laws. Also, it’s wise to check on the condition of your PFDs before every season. If they’re looking a bit worse for wear, replace them immediately. Teaching your passengers about the importance of PFDs is a valuable way to ensure that future generations of boaters are respecting the unpredictability of the water and staying safe.


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