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Equipment: Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

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A Personal Flotation Device (PFD), or more commonly known as a Life Jacket, is an important safety device that should accompany every kayak and kayaker. In fact, the State of Florida requires all boats, motorized or not, to have a flotation device for every person on the boat. Additionally, each boat is required to have a noise making device. Most kayakers will attach a whistle to their PFD to comply with this law.

Equipment;Personal Flotation Device There are a number of different types and styles of PFDs available. Type I PFDs are very bulky and are generally used as "life jackets" on larger offshore vessels. Type II are defined as Near-Shore Buoyant Vests. For kayaking, most people will purchase a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type III vest-style flotation aid. Type III vests are designed for continuous use and are fairly comfortable. Types IV and V are throwable and special use devices.

It's important the PFD works and fits properly. A PFD should allow you to move your arms without interference, but should not be so loose that it floats above your head when you're in the water. The PFD needs to be short enough so that it does not interfere with your spray skirt. For kayaking, the PFD should have at least one pocket to store rescue items, such as flares or a strobe. Most PFDs will come with a plastic tab or ring that can be used to clip on whistles or knives.

A note about wearing a PFD. Yes, it's hot in Florida. Yes, you see many PFDs strapped to the rear decks of kayaks. However hot and ugly they are, a good PFD is one item that you may not be able to live without. 'Nuff said.