Outdoors 101: The ABCs of PFDs
July 25th, 2016 by Curtis Condon
Most states have laws that require children younger than a certain age to wear life jackets when on a boat. In states without a children’s life jacket law, the U.S. Coast Guard requires those under the age of 13 to wear a certified life jacket. Inner tubes and other floaty toys are not considered certified flotation devices. Photo by Britta Kasholm-Tengve

Most states have laws that require children younger than a certain age to wear life jackets when on a boat. In states without a children’s life jacket law, the U.S. Coast Guard requires those under the age of 13 to wear a certified life jacket. Inner tubes and other floaty toys are not considered certified flotation devices. Photo by Britta Kasholm-Tengve

Personal flotation devices can be bulky, hot, uncomfortable and—for the vain at heart—uncool. But they are also lifesavers. A case in point: According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 84 percent of 2014 boating drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

Life jackets not only provide additional flotation in the event of capsizing or an unexpected swim, but they also add a layer of warmth in cold water.

Here are the five types of personal flotation devices:

  • Type I, offshore life jacket. It is designed for extended survival in rough, open water.
  • Type II, near-shore buoyant vest. This is the “classic” life jacket. It is less bulky and less expensive than a
  • Type I PFD, and is designed for calm, inland water.
  • Type III, flotation aid. This PFD is similar to Type II vest, but it tends to be more comfortable and are available in assorted styles and sizes. However, they are not designed to keep an unconscious person face-up in the water such as Type I and II PFDs are designed to do.
  • Type IV, throwable device. This includes boat cushions and ring buoys.
  • Type V, special-use device. Special-use devices
  • includes hybrid vests, work flotation vests and deck suits.

Sizing is important to ensure the proper fit. For adults, it’s based on chest size, For children, it’s based on weight.

Some companies also make PFDs for pets. They are not USGS certified, but they have saved pet lives. They are available at many pet stores and outdoor stores.

The bottom line: Don’t just have a PFD onboard; be sure to wear it, especially if you are not a swimmer or are uncomfortable in the water.

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years
August 25 marks the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service. That’s 100 years of protecting America’s natural, historical and cultural treasures.

There are more than 400 beautiful, historic sites covering more than 80 million acres consisting of approximately 18,000 miles of rails and more than 75,000 archaeological sites.
Source: National Park Service

Not Getting Enough Fishing Time?
Don’t leave home without your fishing rod. You never know when the mood will hit you or an opportunity to wet your hook will present itself.

What’s Special this Month?
August: National Catfish Month and National Picnic Month
August 25: National Dog Day
August 31: National Trail Mix Day

Reader Submission: Another Tip for Keeping Your Cooler Cool
Thermal mass makes your cooler stay colder. To maximize this principle, reader Charles Hayden suggests buying a case of water bottles and freezing them. Use them in place of ice to fill your cooler. When the ice inside the water bottles melts, it doesn’t make things soggy and the water doesn’t go to waste. They melt slower than crushed ice and are less bulky than block ice.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.