Life Jacket Tips

Buy your own personal life jacket for a comfortable fit, and use it. Every pleasure vessel operated upon the waters of New York must carry at least one USCG approved Type I or II or III Personal Flotation Device (PFD), or Life Jacket as they are more commonly known, for each person on board. All PFDs on board your vessel must be:

Free of rot, tears, punctures, waterlogging and all straps functional.

Quickly reachable in an emergency situation, never kept in plastic bags or under lock and key.

Appropriate size for the intended wearer. Check the USCG approval label for information on the intended user for a particular PFD.

Checking Your PFD

Most of us don't have enough natural buoyancy to keep afloat; a PFD is designed to make up the difference. You should periodically test your PFD in shallow water to see if it has sufficient buoyancy to keep you afloat. Many Type I and II PFDs consist of several kapok bags sewn into the device. Each bag must be airtight, otherwise water may seep into the bag causing the kapok to lose some or all of its buoyancy. You can test for leaks by squeezing the bags and listening for escaping air.

You should also check the straps and buckles of your PFD; a PFD will not work properly unless you are properly strapped into it. You should also check your PFD shell for tears in the fabric. Buoyant material may fall out of a tear. Leaving a PFD in with direct exposure to the sun may cause the shell fabric to severely weaken, and tear when worn.

If you are using a fully inflatable PFD, you should check the cylinder and lanyard before each use. You should also review the manufacturer's instructions for establishing a maintenence schedule.

Exposure to oil or grease may cause deterioration as well; always store your PFDs in a dry, well ventilated place.

Children under the age of twelve must wear a Type I, II or III PFD on board a vessel unless they are in a fully enclosed cabin.

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