Personal Flotation Devices or PFD, as its name indicates, are objects that help you float in case of falling into oceans, rivers, or similar. They are also called lifejackets, life preservers, life saver, flotation suit, and so on. PFD are designed in different models and sizes, and they also offer different levels of protections, for example, those used by armies besides providing buoyancy, provide ballistic protection.
Some personal flotation devices include a system that inflate them automatically, others provide a system where you have to blow to inflate it, and most of the personal flotation devices include a whistle too to call the attention and get rescued quicker. Some PFD are designed to help you survive in the ocean, others on rivers, some of them are even designed to help you survive cold temperatures.
There are 5 types of personal devices, so let's take a look at each one of them. Remember that a PFD is only useful when it is being used.
These are specially designed for rough water, and also perfect to stay alive and fine when the rescue will take a long term to arrive. These are also called offshore lifejackets and provide a lot of buoyancy, up to 22 lbs, nevertheless this is not its best characteristic, this type of lifejackets are able to face-up pretty much anybody who is unconscious and at the same time have highly visible colors.
Between its disadvantages, we can name two, are uncomfortable and bulky.
This type of lifejackets are designed to use in calm waters, and are perfect too keep the wearer alive and fine in places where the rescue will not take too much to arrive. These are also called near-shore lifejackets, and provide less buoyancy that type I PFDs.
Type II PFDs are more comfortable and less bulky than Type I PFDs, and are able to face up some of the unconscious wearers. Remember that type II PFDs are not too useful for rough waters, so use the correct type according where you go.
Type III PFDs are useful for calm waters where the rescue will not take too long to arrive, they provide pretty much the same buoyancy than type II flotation devices provide, but usually do not face up unconscious wearers. One of its characteristics, is the variety of designs available, you can even find jackets, and actually, are the most comfortable between the three first types.
Among its disadvantages, we can name the following, you may have to put your head back to avoid being face down, and are not designed for rough waters.
These type of personal flotation devices are perfect for calm waters where rescue is right on the way, there are several types, for example rings, horseshoes, buoys, cushions and more. Its main characteristic is the fact that they can be thrown to someone who has fall into the water to help him stay on the surface, so are a perfect complement for lifejackets.
Between its disadvantages, we can name the following, they are not useful for unconscious people, and are not the best choice for people who do not know how to swim.
Type V is probably one of the most popular, they can perform pretty much at the same level than type I, II and III, but they need to be at least partially inflated to work as a flotation device. There is also a big variety of models, including lifejackets, deck suits and more. In order to make things easier, there are models that include auto-inflating systems, so the only thing you would have to do to inflate them, is pull a cord.