The Five Different Flotation Devices
various personal flotation devices hung on rack

When you’re around any body of water, the number one thing that you need to be mindful of is safety. Nothing is more important than making sure that everyone can efficiently swim and that there is an adequate number of personal flotation devices (PFDs) nearby in the event of an emergency. Did you know that PFDs, also known as life jackets, life vests, flotation aids, etc., aren’t one size fits all? In fact, there are five different types, all required to fit the U.S. Coast Guard’s guidelines. Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas is here to break them down.

Type I – Offshore Life Jacket

A type I PFD is the most buoyant of the five types. They are known for being bulky and uncomfortable but very reliable in all types of water such as rough, remote, or calm. These flotation devices can turn an unconscious person face-up while in the water, perfect for when the rescue is delayed. A type I PFD can be worn in the water for the longest amount of time.

Type II – Inland Life Vest

The second type of PFD is best suited for calmer waters as it is not as reliable as a type I when it comes to turning an unconscious swimmer face-up. It is more comfortable than a type I yet bulkier than a type III. Both type II and type III are available in buoyant or inflatable styles.

Type III – Flotation Aid

The most comfortable of all, the third type gives you the most freedom in terms of movement. It too is meant for calmer waters and requires the wearer to be able to lift and hold their head out of the water as this type will not turn the wearer face-up. They are also not meant for long-term; rescue while wearing this type needs to be swift.

Type IV – Flotation Device

Unlike the other PFDs, type IV is not worn on the body. Instead, it is typically a throwable life ring used when someone has fallen into the water without a PFD. It is not meant for unconscious people or children and should never be worn. It is simply to keep a conscious person afloat as they are swimming to safety or pulled out of the water. If you’re on a boat, this type of PFD must be present and within arms reach if the boat is over a certain size.

Type V – Special Use PFD

Lastly, we have type V. These PFDs, often referred to as ‘special use devices’, are designed for specific activities such as water rafting, water skiing, or kayaking/canoeing. They can be classified as type I, II, or III, depending on the activity and are often created for different climates. 

Stay Safe with Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas

Hanging out and playing in the water is all fun and games until tragedy strikes. Stay safe by keeping an emergency flotation device within arms reach while enjoying your swimming pool from Aqua Leisure. For more aquatic safety devices, pool chemicals, or even a new pool, contact our skilled pool professionals today!