Life Jacket : What is it?
Life jackets (simplified term for personal flotation devices or PFDs) are life-saving devices designed to keep the wearer afloat in a vertical or face-up position with the head above the water.
Life jackets come in many different forms. There are simple jackets, vests, an even full-body suits. A good life jacket is made of durable synthetic fiber materials, usually foam with air chambers, buoyant enough to float in the water. Most life jackets have bright colors that make them very visible during rescue operations.
The laws on using life jackets or PFDs in a boat or any sea transportation vary from state to state. The only federal law regarding their use states that “the use of PFDs are not required on racing canoes, racing kayaks, rowing sculls, and racing shells.”
In Oregon, its state law indicates that “No person shall operate a boat on Oregon waters with a child age 12 and under unless the child is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket, of the appropriate size, while the boat is underway. Children on an open deck or cockpit of sailboats, motorized and non-motorized vessels (canoes, kayaks, rafts) underway must wear a life jacket at all times.”
Kinds of Life Jackets include the following:
Type I life jackets
Type I life jackets are designed to be worn offshore, in coastal waters, in open waters, or in rough seas where a quick rescue may not be possible. They have the greatest flotation system among all the other types of life jackets. Type I life jackets are designed to turn unconscious wearers face-up in the water.
Type II life jackets
Type II life jackets are designed to be worn on rough waters where quick rescue is probable. They are less buoyant than type I life jackets. They are designed to turn unconscious wearers to a slightly vertical or ‘face-up’ position. They are not recommended for extended survival in cold or rough waters.]
Type III life jackets
Type III life jackets are designed to be worn in any general or specialized boating activity where a quick rescue is possible. They are designed to turn conscious wearers in a stable face-up position with the head tilted back.
Infant and child life jackets
Infant and child life jackets are intended for children and infants. They usually have a crotch strap that keeps the life jacket on and in place. Most models have oversize float collars that keep water away from the head and a grab loop that makes pulling the wearers out of the water easier.
Coast Guard approval: Choose a life jacket that has been approved by the Coast Guard to make certain that it is not damaged and is safe to use. Look for the tag with the stencil marking of the approval seal, and information on the amount of flotation and the type of device.
Proper fit: Choose a life jacket that fits your body correctly. Life jackets that are too loose may float away or detach itself from your body. Using the “touchdown test,” you can determine whether a life jacket fits you or not. Put on the life jacket and signal a touchdown. Look to the right, the left, and over your shoulder. If the chest part of your life jacket does not hit your chin in any way, then it is a perfect fit to your body.
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