A personal flotation device must be readily accessible to each person on a boat, and it should be sized properly and fitted to the user. If a PFD is not readily accessible, a USCG inspector may issue a ticket. A USCG certified kayaking PFD provides 15.5 to 22 pounds of floatation and is designed for kayakers. The equipment can be easily found in the open bins near passengers and is easily accessed.
A PFD must be sized properly for the person it is intended for. It must also be available immediately. A throwable Type IV PFD is required for vessels sixteen feet and longer, and it must be immediately available. A boat should have one throwable PFD and an emergency life ring. Generally, a boat with a crew of four or more has a single throwable Type IV PFD. The PFD must be sized for the wearer and be in good condition.
There are two types of PFDs: disposable and reusable. An inflatable PFD is approved for persons over the age of sixteen. This type must be readily available on the boat and it should be properly stored in a locked watertight compartment below deck. A throwable PFD must be in good condition and be able to be thrown immediately, even when the wearer falls unconscious. The USCG requires each vessel to have one throwable Type IV PFD in a location where the wearer can access it easily.
An unsecured PFD, especially a throwable one, may be unsuitable for the wearer. An unsecured, closed compartment on a vessel may not be suitable for such a device. If the PFD is not readily accessible, a USCG inspection officer may reject the application of a license for the boat to be operated. Nonetheless, this type of PFD does not need to be easily available in the water and does not require a lock.
As a rule, a Type IV U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD must be readily accessible on a vessel. Exceptions include those on canoes and kayaks, which are under 16 feet in length. While a throwable PFD can be placed in a closed compartment, it needs to be in good condition and be available immediately. In addition, it must be in the appropriate size for the person it is intended for.
A PFD must be readily accessible to the wearer. It must be the proper size for the intended wearer. A person must be wearing a PFD while being towed in a boat. An unlocked PFD can not be stored in a locked compartment. However, it must be available for use in an emergency situation. A well-maintained PFD is one that can be easily retrieved.
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