While paddleboarding can be a fun and relaxing experience, it’s important to prioritize safety and be prepared for unexpected situations. One essential safety item that should always be on board is a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).
In this article, we ask: what is the main advantage of a Type IV PFD? Furthermore – do you need one to paddleboard?
There’s a lot of talk going around boating communities about this PFD, so it’s time to figure it out once and for all.
What is a Type IV PFD?
A Type IV PFD is a flotation device that can be thrown to someone who has fallen off a boat or paddleboard and needs help. It is not meant to be worn but rather carried on board the boat or paddleboard, ready to be thrown to someone.
You know those classic circular bouys that are always hanging on a ship somewhere? Think about a Type IV PFD that way!
These bouys are meant to be thrown to someone who has fallen into the water and may not be wearing a life jacket, or needs assistance getting back into the boat.
The Difference Styles of Type IV PFDs
A Type IV PFD can come in various shapes and sizes, such as a buoyant cushion, horseshoe buoy, or ring buoy.
The most important thing is that this PFD must be US Coast Guard approved for use in US waters. Typically, you can find this information on the package or product description before purchasing one.
Is It Required for Paddle Boarding?
No, Type IV PFDs are not required on paddle boards unless it is over 16 feet long.
In many states, paddle boarders are required to have at least one type of coast guard approved PFD on board and it must be worn if users are under the age of 12.
Note that this does not mean the Type IV – which makes sense since you would need someone to throw it to you should you fall off the board.
All users must have a USCG-approved Type I, II, III life jacket. If you have the appropriate Type V, you can also wear one of those.
Now, that’s a lot of jargon about life jackets...
So, let’s clarify some things. Not sure what the different Types mean, or what life jacket you should get for paddle boarding?
Check out our guide on different SUP life jackets for more information about what this means:
What is the Main Advantage of a Type IV PFD?
So, when it comes to paddleboarding, safety is a top priority. We all know that, but if these buoys aren’t necessary on your SUP, then what is the main advantage of a Type IV PFD?
The main advantage of using a Type IV PFD in paddleboarding is that it helps keep the person afloat until they can be rescued. This is important if the paddler is tired or injured and can’t swim back to safety. It can also help more than one person at a time.
It’s like having a backup safety device in case of an emergency. It’s handy to have on board if you have a larger SUP, such as a multi-person or party SUP. This type of PFD is required on any vessel over 16 feet long.
Keep in mind that it’s still important to wear a Type III PFD while paddleboarding as it provides more reliable flotation in case of an accident, and all children under the age of 12 are required to wear a Type III PFD while on board.
When To Use (And Not Use) A Type IV PFD
You can use a Type IV PFD if the person is conscious and can hold onto the device while they wait for rescue. It’s helpful if the person is injured or tired.
This type of flotation device can be useful in group paddleboarding scenarios as well, where the PFD needs to support multiple people getting back onto the board safely.
But, what about when you should not use a Type IV PFD?
First, it’s important to note that a Type IV PFD should not be used as the primary flotation device while paddleboarding. A Type III PFD is designed to be worn and provides more reliable flotation in case of an accident, so it should always be worn while on the water.
(Again, if you’re confused with all the different Types of personal flotation devices, check out the article that explains it all HERE.)
Additionally, a Type IV PFD should not be used if the person in distress is unconscious, as they will not be able to hold onto the device. In this case, a Type I PFD or a Type II PFD may be more appropriate, as they are designed to provide more buoyancy and keep an unconscious person’s head above water.
What Is the Difference Between a PFD and a Life Jacket?
Both a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and a life jacket are designed to help a person float and prevent drowning, but they work in different ways.
A PFD is a general term that includes different types of devices, and it’s classified based on their intended use and level of buoyancy. It’s designed to keep a person afloat, but it may not necessarily turn an unconscious person face up.
On the other hand, a life jacket is a specific type of PFD that provides more buoyancy and turns an unconscious person face up to keep their mouth and nose clear of the water, preventing drowning. These are commonly used in rough water conditions for activities such as boating, fishing, water skiing, and – yep! – paddle boarding.
When choosing a PFD or life jacket, make sure it’s properly fitted and approved by the US Coast Guard. You will also want to rinse the life jacket after every use, and inspect for holes or damage before your next use. Never use a life jacket or PFD that is damaged, as it may not perform as expected.