Department of Natural Resources
All vessels must be equipped with USCG–approved personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life jackets. The quantity and type depend on the length of your vessel and the number of people on board and/or being towed.
(Off-Shore Life Jacket) (22 lbs. Buoyancy) Best for open, rough or remote water where rescue may be slow in coming.
Advantages: Turns most unconscious wearers face-up in water. Highly visible color. Floats the person the best.
Sizes: Two sizes to fit most children and adults.
(Near-Shore Buoyant Vest) (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy) Good for calm, inland water or where there is good chance of fast rescue.
Advantages: Turns some unconscious wearers face-up in water. Less bulky, more comfortable than Type I PFD. Inexpensive.
Disadvantages: Not for long hours in the water. Will not turn some unconscious wearers face-up in water.
Sizes: Infant, Child Small, Child Medium, Adult.
(Flotation Aid) (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy) Good for calm, inland water or where there is a good chance of fast rescue.
Advantages: Generally the most comfortable type for continuous wear. Freedom of movement for most active water sports. Available in many styles. Freedom of movement for water-skiing, small boat, sailing, fishing, etc.
Disadvantages: Wearer may have to tilt head back to avoid going facedown. In rough water, a wearer's face may often be covered by waves. Not for extended survival in rough water.
(Throwable Device) For calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic, where help is always nearby.
Advantages: Can be thrown to someone. Good back-up wearable PFDs. Some can be used as a seat cushion.
Kinds: Cushions, Rings and Horseshoe buoys.
Disadvantages: Not for unconscious persons. Nor for non-swimmers or children. Not for many hours in rough water.