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The Choice is Yours
Get and wear a USCG approved PFD that fits well; make sure it is the proper type and approved for your specific usage. Put it on, adjust it, and test it in the water so you will know how it will feel when needed. Do the same for family members - especially children. Knowing what to expect in the water can prevent panic. Non-swimmers should wear a PFD on any boat. Never leave PFDs sealed in plastic wrapping. They must be ready to put on fast. Whenever water conditions or weather cause concern, have everybody aboard immediately put on a PFD. If you fall in the water, stay with your boat.

    Offshore PFD (Type I): Bulky; but floats you the best; best for open, rough or remote water. Turns most unconscious persons face-up in the water.
    Near Shore Buoyant PFD (Type II): Yoke-type, less bulky than Type I and more comfortable to wear. Will hold head of many unconscious persons out of water.
  Flotation Aids (Type III): Vest style; popular among recreational boaters. Only designed for calm water with good chance of fast rescue. Wearer may have to hold head back to keep face out of water, which can contribute to exhaustion and hypothermia. May not hold face of unconscious wearer out of water.
    Throwable Devices (Type IV): Life rings and flotation cushions.
  Special Use Devices (Type V): Approved only for the activities listed on the label. Some are approved specifically for white water rafting, board sailing, etc. Also includes new hybrid PFDs with foam flotation and an inflatable chamber. Type V hybrid PFDs are as comfortable to wear as a Type III, but when fully inflated have the flotation performance of a Type II or better.
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