Back in 2009, very few people even bothered to wear a PFD for races when they participated. It didn’t matter if the weather was bad or good; the inflatables simply were a problem when it came to competitions.
The safety officer themselves who were aboard the boats strapped the inflatables for the crew to lanyards and put them in a storage locker below the boat. As luck would have it, many race teams and crew managed to get away without capsizing, and if they did, they were too lucky to survive. It was instead a game of fate and hoping for the best. Over the years, there have also been some crews who were not so lucky and who have met their maker because of being careless about their PFDs. Today, it is the law for everyone aboard a floating vessel like a boat to wear a PFD to ensure they are safe – especially in races.
The Importance of PFDs
While wearing a PFD is essential and vital, there is also the factor of maintenance that needs to be taken into consideration. Most people rarely use their PFDs, but it is there for a purpose. There should be a checklist item to maintain regularly onboard the vessel before taking them out to the water. One of those things that need to be checked is the PFDs to ensure they can be used efficiently on the offchance of needing it at all. For those who find that the inflatables are very inconvenient, today some inflatables can be inflated by merely pulling a string but otherwise stays deflated. Some models inflate automatically when they touch the water surface because of the water-soluble substance that is contained in the PFD. Many of the PFDs also has a valve that can be blown in case the automatic inflation fails on the off chance.
Caring for The Inflatable
Several things need to be considered to make sure your inflatable is suitable to be taken into the water at all. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guide to how the PFD should be cared for. Make yourself familiar with the pattern of the PFD and how it should be examined every time. Lay the PFD on a flat surface and make it smoothed out. Look at the seams and the stitches of the exterior, checking to see if there is any rip or wear/tear on it. Do oral inflation of the PFD and check if it works and stays inflated. Leave the inflated PFD till the next day and see if the air has stayed the way it was. If there is any problem at all, take it to a professional to be fixed or purchase a new one if you must. The PFDs with gas cylinders are the ones that inflate instantly, and they allow for 35-40 pounds of floating. Check the cylinders well and also any harness that they have. PFDs are a better choice than life jackets, so while the cost is a consideration, longevity and bargain for the value of life and the pocket is better with a PFD.