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USCG Boating Safety

Life Vest Classification Guide:

Type I PFD - Off-Shore Life vest
This life vest provides the most buoyancy and floats the best. It is reversible, easy to put on and designed to turn most people who are unconscious in the water from the face-down position to an upright and slightly backward position. It is effective in all types of water, especially where rescue is delayed. It comes in 2 sizes: adults more than 90 pounds and kids less than 90 pounds.

Type II PFD - Near-Shore Buoyancy Vest
This life vest is intended for calm, inland water or where a quick rescue is possible. Will turn some unconscious wearers to a face-up position in the water although the turning is not as definite as with a Type I PFD. This life vest comes in several comfortable sizes and styles.

Type III PFD - Flotation Aid
Good for conscious wearers in calm, inland water or where a quick rescue is possible. Type III foam life vest offers same minimum buoyancy as Type II PFD, comes in many colors and sizes, and is most comfortable for continuous wear.

Type IV PFD - Throwable Device
Intended for calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic wear rescue is always possible. Designed to be thrown to a conscious person in the water to be held by user until rescued. Type IV devices include buoyant cushions, ring buoys and horseshoe buoys. They are not designed to be worn.

Life vests, jackets, and life preservers should never be substitutes for good judgment and adult supervision.