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Choosing an Inflatable PFD

How to Choose an Inflatable Lifejacket PFD Vest

Inflatable life vest PFDs

The most important thing to remember is that if you have one, WEAR IT!  Your PFD should fit comfortably and be suited for the specific type of water activity you are doing.  If the PFD is comfortable you are much more likely to wear it and most inflatable PFD vests are compfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Inflatable PFDs come with either manual or automatic activation. The manual version inflates by pulling the jerk tab that hangs from the PFD at waist-height. You may wish to choose a manual inflate if you are involved in a water sport such as paddling, rafting or wade fishing where there is a high likelihood of water contact. Automatic Inflatables are your best choice if you don't expect to end up in the water, but want the confidence of knowing that it will inflate automatically in seconds if the unexpected happens. There are two types of automatic vests: Standard Automatic which inflates when a salt tablet becomes saturated with water after immersion and Hydrostatic Activation which relies on a water pressure sensor to inflate the vest after immersion in at least 4 inches of water. Hydrostatic activation is less likely to have a false activation from being drenched from rain or high waves. All of these inflatable vests use a CO2 cartridge tn inflate the bladder of the vest. You should always have a extra inflatable re-arm kit for your vest because it is not much good without one. Purchasing a re-arm kit at the same time as your PFD is a great idea if the unexpected happens you'll be back on the water in no time. The two most popular Brands of inflatable PFD vests are Mustang Survival of Canada and Spinlock Deckvest of Great Britain. Some inflatable PFDs come with an integrated harness which sailors like so that they can easily attached a tether without wearing a separate harness. Most of these inflatable PFD vests give you twice the buoyancy of a foam vest.

Mustang Inflatable vest Mustang Inflatable Vest
Mustang Inflatable PFD Vests

The best Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is the one you wear. 
Hydrostatic Inflator Technology PFDs are perfect if you spend time in high humidity or wet weather. Inflatables are stylish, lightweight, low profile, flexible and very comfortable to wear. They won’t get in the way whether you’re reeling in the big one, cruising or paddling to your next destination.
Inflatable PFDs are Coast Guard approved and come in a variety of colors. Once the PFD is inflated you will see that the cell inside is bright yellow and has SOLAS reflective tape on it. After inflation it will give you twice the buoyancy of a foam vest. Inflatables can be used over and over again. Purchasing a re-arm kit at the same time as your PFD is a great idea – if the unexpected happens you’ll be back on the water in no time.

Mustang Re-Arm kit Mustang Re-Arm kit
Mustang Inflatable Re-Arm kits

Manual Inflation
Manuals are perfect for when there is a reasonable chance that you will end up in the water, but you're confident that you'll be able to pull the inflation cord when you need it. For example, when paddling, kayaking or wade fishing.

Automatic Inflation
Automatics are your best choice if you don't expect to end up in the water, but want the confidence that if the unexpected happens, the PFD will inflate within seconds of being in the water. For example, on a sailboat or a powerboat. They work with a small tablet that dissolves when you enter the water causing the inflator to activate and fill the inflatable cell.

Mustang Iflatable inflation
Mustang Manual Inflation

Hydrostatic Inflation
Mustang Survival has introduced a new inflatable PFD that uses Hydrostatic Inflator Technology (HIT) that won't inflate in high humidity conditions. Exclusive to Mustang, it uses a water pressure valve that only opens if it has been immersed in 4 or more inches of water. You could be fishing in the pouring rain or high humidity, or storing your PFD in a locker but it simply won't inflate unless you go in the water.

Choosing a child's PFD (lifejacket)
Children are all unique, right down to their shape and size. Therefore, for a PFD to be effective it must fit snugly on your child. You can do this by checking that the waist and the through-the-leg safety straps are secured. To check for a good fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the vest. With a correct fit, the child’s chin and ears should NOT be able to slip through the vest. Never buy a PFD for a child "to grow into".
Even though your child is wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) when they are on or near the water, an adult should always be present. It is important to teach your child how to put this vest on and to test the vest in the water immediately after purchase. This is also a perfect time to learn how to float in the water so they don’t panic if the unexpected does happen.

Salus PFD Vest     Salus Vest
Mustang and Salus Child PFD vest

    

 
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