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What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?

Mark Armstrong
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Life jackets can be an essential piece of equipment when you’re out on the water but PFDs are not all the same when it comes to uses. You may be wondering what a Type IV PFD advantage might be.

Let’s take a look at what a Type IV PFD is and why having one might be beneficial.

What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?Pin

​What Is A Type IV PFD?

A Type IV PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is different from other types of PFDs in that it is not designed to be worn. Instead, it is a device that is designed to be thrown to someone in the water to help them in a rescue situation.

Type IV PFDs can often be seen at the edges of marinas or swimming pools, as well as at beaches and on larger boats.

They are commonly shaped like a ring, similar in shape to a child’s inflatable swim ring. But unlike a child’s swim ring, Type IV PFDs are made from inherently buoyant materials so they can provide instant flotation for both adults and children in emergency situations.

However, Type IV PFDs can also come in other shapes, such as squares and horseshoes

The main benefits of a Type IV PFD are that it can be thrown and used in a variety of situations. One important advantage of this type of PFD is that it is suitable for all heights, weights and ages.

​What Is The Difference In Features Between A Type IV And Other PFDs?

One of the main differences between Type IV PFDs and other PFDs is that they are throwable rather than wearable. Other types of PFDs are generally worn so that they can provide buoyancy immediately if you fall in the water.

A Type IV PFD is designed to be thrown to a person in the water, for example if they have fallen overboard. These types of PFDs can also be used to help someone if they get into difficulty while swimming or even to provide additional help in a rescue situation to someone who is already wearing a life jacket.

Type IV PFDs have to be visible and easily accessible on boats longer than 16 feet but it’s recommended that smaller boats also have one on board in case of emergencies.

Another difference in features is that a Type IV PFD, if it’s a ring buoy style, must be either orange or white. Other styles of Type IV PFDs can be other colors, just like other types of wearable PFDs.

> Guide to inflatable PFDs

​What Are The Most Important Advantages Of A Type IV PFD?

​Universal Size

One of the main advantages of a Type IV PFD is that it is designed to be used by all ages and sizes. This is because it is not a wearable device so there are no specific sizes.

With other types of PFDs that are meant to be worn, it’s important that you wear the correct size so that the life jacket can give you the buoyancy that you need to stay afloat.

With Type IV PFDs, you don’t need to worry about sizing as it is a throwable device. There are some styles, such as the cushion style, that do have straps. But these straps are there to provide additional support if you’re in the water, and give you something extra to grab hold of.

​Video: Use ​Throwable ​Flotation ​Device ​For ​Water ​Rescue

​Can Be Towed

A lot of throwable PFDs, such as ring buoys, have attachment points that can allow you to secure a rope for added safety.

Adding a rope to your Type IV can make it easier to rescue someone, as it can allow you to pull them closer to you, as long as you keep a hold of the rope when you throw the PFD.

> Throw bags and ropes

​Can Be Thrown

Probably one of the most important benefits of a Type IV PFD is that it can be thrown. This means it can be used in a variety of situations and can be a life saving device whether you’re wearing a PFD or not.

They can be a versatile buoyancy aid that can be used in swimming pools, beaches, harbors, rivers and lakes, as well as the ocean and on boats. They can be thrown to anyone in the water, unlike other PFDs which would need to be worn and fitted before entering the water.

The throwable nature of these devices means you can also use them to mark a location where a person entered the water, giving you an indication of the direction of current in order to carry out a better search and rescue.

> When should you discard a PFD?

​Finishing Up

Type IV PFDs can be extremely beneficial because of their ease of use. They can be suitable for a range of ages, sizes and situations and can be a legal requirement on larger vessels.

Help to keep your fellow water users safe by sharing this with them, and if you have any thoughts you want to add, leave us a comment.

1 thought on “What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?”

  1. My,or at least, my friend’s experience with a type IV ring: As a teenager, many years ago, I raced sprint canoes and kayaks. One day a friend was out practicing in a K1 kayak. A tour boat from a nearby amusement park passed close enough to him, and the wake caused him to flip. No big deal, he would have rolled the kayak back up, until the tour boat decided to “help”. One of their crew threw a life ring at him, and hit him in the head. It dazed him, but fortunately, it did not knock him out and drown him. Years later, during a safety inspection of a sailboat I own, the coast guard bitched about the horseshoe on the back, and were miffed that I had the prerequisite ring stowed where it could not hurt someone. I told them the above story, and where they could stuff their life ring!!!!


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