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WCSO Public Safety Announcement – Everything you need to know about Personal Floatation Devices!

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable summer. With summer in full swing, the lakes and rivers are a great place for recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, kayaks and canoes.

While enjoying the waterways, please keep safety in mind. This includes the use of a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Personal Floatation Device (PFD).

Life Jacket Rules – Life Jackets Float.  You Don't!  Wear It!

U.S. Coast Guard boating accident data indicates that 90 percent of the people who drown in a boating or water accident would be alive today if they had been wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident.

Who must wear a PFD (life jacket)?

  • Children less than 6 years of age must wear a Type I or Type II PFD when riding in the open deck area of a boat.
  • Each person operating, riding on or being towed behind a personal watercraft (Jet Ski) must wear a Type I, Type II or Type III PFD (that is not an inflatable device).
  • Each person less than 12 years of age riding or being towed, behind a personal watercraft (Jet Ski) must wear a Type I or Type II PFD.

What “type” of PFD do I need to carry on my boat in Michigan?

  • Vessels less than 16 feet (including canoes and kayaks) must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or IV PFD for each person on board.
  • The U.S. Guard requires all vessels less than 16 feet, used on the Great Lakes or connecting waterways, to carry one approved Type I, II, or III device for each person on board.
  • Vessels 16 feet and longer, in addition to the Type I, II, or III for each person on board must carry one type IV. (Canoes and kayaks over 16 feet are exempt from the Type IV requirement.)

Note:  All PFD’s must be ready at hand and not enclosed in plastic bags or other containersThe “Type” of a PFD is printed on the flotation device. 

What are the different “types” of PFD’s?

  • TYPE I: An off-Shore Life Jacket (22 lbs. Buoyancy), it is best suited for open, rough or remote water where rescue may be slow in coming.  It will turn most unconscious wearers face-up in water; a little bulky.  Two (2) sizes fit most children and adults.
  • TYPE II: A near-Shore Buoyant Vest (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy), it is best suited for calm, inland water.  It will turn some unconscious wearers face-up in water; less bulky than a Type I and less expensive.  Sizes for infants, small and medium size children, and adults. 
  • TYPE III: A flotation aid (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy), it is best suited for calm, inland water.  It is comfortable and allows for more freedom of movement.  It is available in many styles and popular for water-skiing, small boat operation, sailing, fishing, etc.  Not intended for rough, open water.
  • TYPE IV: A throwable device, it is intended for calm, inland water where assistance is always nearby.  It serves as a positive secondary option to wearable PFDs.  They come as seat cushions, rings, and horseshoe buoys.  Not intended for unconscious persons, non-swimmers, children, or rough, open water.

Boater Safety Class

There is still time to register for the upcoming Boater Safety Class being held at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 8:00 am. After successfully completing the one day course, a Boater Safety Certificate will be issued to participants.  Please contact Cpl. Tom Mercure at mercuret@ewashtenaw.org or by phone to register: (734) 973-4713.

Life Jacket Types

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