PFD or life jacket - what's the difference?
30 November 2010
Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) are identified in Australian and international standards as Type 1, 2 or 3 – only Type 1 is a lifejacket, Type 2 and 3 are buoyancy vests. They are rated according to the amount of flotation they provide to the wearer and on the standard to which they’re made.
PFD Type 1
- has sufficient flotation to support body and head
- is designed to keep you afloat and your head out of water
- is called a ‘lifejacket’ in the Australian Standards
- provides greater flotation than other types of PFD
- is not suitable for higher-speed activities such as water skiing, rowing and riding a personal watercraft, because the neckpiece can increase the risk of injury at high-speed.
PFD Type 2
- is a ‘buoyancy vest’ not lifejacket
- has less flotation than a PFD 1 with flotation panels front and back only
- provides more freedom of movement than a PFD Type 1, but will not maintain your head above water
- is most suited to higher-speed activities such as water skiing, rowing and riding a personal watercraft.
PFD Type 3
- is similar to PFD 2, but doesn’t meet the Australian Standards Association colour standards
- is designed for high-speed water sports such as water skiing, kite surfing, aquaplaning, operating personal water craft and sail-boarding.