Where Is the Best Place To Put PFDs While You Are Out on Your Boat?

Last Updated on January 12, 2022

Whether you are about to take a boat Ed exam or planning a boat trip with your friends and family, there are a few best places where to put PFDs, and every boat owner should know them. When it comes to sailing a boat, not everybody realizes just how quickly an accident can happen. If it does, it is always the same question, “Why didn’t the owner of the boat do something?”

Boat accidents create a tremendous panic, turning a pleasant trip into a nightmare. Being prepared for the worst is the number one rule before you go out on a boat ride, with the owner’s duty to store sufficient PFDs on the boat. However, just having the PFDs is not enough. You also need to know the best place to store them so that they can be used in the moment of panic.

What Is a Personal Flotation Device(PFD)

PFDs help you float when you are in water and look a lot like life jackets. The only difference is that life jackets are much more proficient in making you stay afloat. On the other hand, PFDs have a more convenient design and require less training to use. Since the floating material in a PFD is placed at the back, your movements are not restricted by it.

What Is The Best Place To Store PFDs On a Boat

PFDs should always be placed on the boat’s top deck since it is nearest to the passengers’ seating area on board.

It should be kept in a basket or a box that is open and easy to spot. The box or the basket should be placed at a spot where people can easily see and reach it. At any time, equipment, luggage, or boat accessories should not be blocking the path to the PFD box.

This is done to ensure that in case things go south, everybody can easily reach the storage unit and grab PFD before it’s too late. After all, in a situation like this, you cannot afford a delay of any kind.

Who Needs To Wear a PFD On a Boat

It is also required that you have a PFD for all the passengers on board. You have to keep in mind that the sizes of the PFDs need to be a perfect fit for the passengers you have on your boat. PFDs are not one-size-fits-all kinds of devices.

The perfect size of PFDs usually depends on the person’s chest size and weight. However, this does not apply to people with:

  • Chest size more than 140 CM
  • Children who were below 20 lbs

If you are taking your dog out on the boat, you must get them a canine floating device. Although dogs are known to be excellent swimmers, you cannot afford to risk their lives.

Is It Legal To Store PFDs In A Locked Storage Box

The laws surrounding PFDs are different for different states. However, no matter where you are from, you are not allowed to store PFDs in enclosed boxes, plastic bags, or storage units where they are not easily accessible. PFDs need to be kept at a place that is easily visible by all the passengers, and there should be no obstruction in reaching it.

Other laws associated with PFDs include:

  • Children below a certain age are required to wear PFDs for the entire time they are on the boat. The age limit varies from city to city. For example, in New York, 12-year-olds and below are required to wear PFDs all the time, and for Florida, it is 6. The same rule also applies to adults, but it’s not a legal mandate for them.
  • Most countries require the PFDs to be approved by the local coast guard. US cities like New York and Florida need to have PFDs approved by the US Coast Guard (USGC). For Canada, the PFDs have to be approved by the department of transport, Canada.
  • Depending on the height of the vessel, there are various types of PFDs available. For each different vessel, you need to have different PFDs as required by your state’s laws.
  • Failing to follow the coast guard laws comes with serious consequences. In some places like Louisiana, it is considered a criminal offense. In other places like Massachusetts, you can be fined $50 or more, depending on the extent of the violation.

Storage Tips For PFDs When On a Boat

The coast guard laws for every state are stringent when it comes to storing the PFDs on a boat. How you store them is important to meet the legal requirements and essential for your own safety. Here are a few things that need to keep in mind while storing PFDs on a boat:

  • You need to remove them from the plastic cover they come in before taking them on board. According to boat laws, PFDs covered in plastics are not ready to use.
  • Before you take the PFDs on the boat, you must check them for holes or other kinds of damage. You should ensure that the belt, strap, and everything else are in proper condition and fit for use.
  • They need to be stored in an open storage unit that is easily visible as well as accessible. There shouldn’t be any hurdle blocking the path to those storage units.
  • Ensure that you store them away from the sunlight in a cool, dry, and ventilated place. The harsh UV rays from the sun have the potential to damage the delicate material of the PFDs.
  • Always try to hang the PFDs instead of stacking them in shelves for racks. If there is not enough room to hang them, then make sure there are no sharp or heavy objects placed on them. A sharp or heavy object can do extreme damage to the device.

How To Maintain Your PFDs When Not On The Boat

Keeping PFDs clean is very easy. All you need is mild soap and water to wash and rinse the device. Make sure while cleaning it should not use harsh detergents or bleach. These chemicals can react with the material of the PFDs and hamper their efficiency in floating.

Once you are done washing them, always keep them away from direct sunlight. Also, never use a dryer or any kind of heated device to dry the PFDs. Just hang them in the open air and let them dry naturally.

PFDs are generally made of vinyl or plastic materials that do not go well with heat. In case they are exposed to high temperatures, the materials can disintegrate, defeating the purpose a PFD serves.

You might also need to remove greasy stains from them. In that case, use a soft-bristle brush to rub off the stain gently. Do not use hard-bristle brushes or anything sharp that can poke holes or damage the PFDs.


When you are out on the sea, you shouldn’t compromise on the safety of your family and yourself. Abiding by precautionary rules on a board is even more important than the safety rules on the road. After all, you never know when the sea will turn wild.

When out in the sea, common sense can be clouded by the thrill of the adventure. By the time you realize there’s an accident, the thrill turns into shock. How you react to this shock plays a decisive role in determining the damage and the injuries. Boats can easily become death traps so make sure you acquaint yourself with all the precautionary guidelines and are well-equipped to stay afloat for as long as possible.