Why wear a PFD ?


Paddling inflatable kayak
He was paddling an inflatable, Sea Eagle kayak. The portion of the river where he was is tidal and depending on the tides there can be a strong current in the area. The son (wearing a PFD) was spotted in the water by a power boater who was heading to Conn. - water temperature around 70 degrees 5 year old son was given no medical treatment other then a check-up. Police report on local TV this morning said they did not think the kayak over turned as they found items in the boat that would have fallen out and sunk if it did, so they do not know the cause.

That’s just sad
That’s just a stupid way to die when you know you could’ve prevented it just by wearing a PFD.

I feel sorry for his kid that had to go through all of that, RIP.


– Last Updated: Aug-14-11 1:21 PM EST –

People need to be responsible for themselves
- at all times, every second of every day.

Selfish naive ignorant people are a drain on society.
A rescue endangers other peoples lives, uses very
expensive resources, equipment and time in order
to usually save someone who didn't care enough to learn.

Sitting in a plane doesn't make one a pilot;
sitting in a race car doesn't make one a pro driver,
why does putting ones tush in a kayak suddenly
make them think they are a kayaker or paddler.
It's a learned skill - classes exist - people teach.
Then again, some are hard headed, don't listen, foolish, and die.

people can fall out without a capsize
Being hit broadside by a strong wake or wave can pop a person out of a boat without causing objects stuffed down in the hull to eject. I think inflatables are particularly dangerous in this respect since the force of water can actually cause a flexing trampoline-like rebound in the floor of the boat, an effect familiar to anyone who has done class IV/V whitewater in a two man raft.

I watched this happen several times on Pittsburgh’s big rivers last summer, when low water levels created shallows extending farther from shore than usual (the churn of reflected boat wakes on busy weekends even created a clapotis effect at times). The wakes from ski and other high speed boats tearing down the central channels would suddenly rise as they neared the shore, coming in parallel with the trajectory of often oblivious kayakers. You could spot right away the experienced paddlers, who would have been aware of and watching for the wake, react by bracing, while the startled newbs (mostly in SOT’s or open cockpit rec boats or inflatables) would lift their paddles out of the water (or even, in one case, drop the paddle and grab the cockpit) while throwing their weight towards the wave as the leading edge rose – of course this meant they tended to spill out of the boat on the backside of the wave. I helped corral several boats and dunked paddlers that summer. I was not as good a Samaritan to a chubby young jet ski driver who had been tearing through the unofficial kayaker “lanes” until he got a taste of his own medicine when a reflected wake pitched him off. He had the nerve to bob in the water imploring the paddlers to “tow me to my ski” which had been carried by inertia 100 or so yards away. By the time I passed him he had resigned himself to “I guess you don’t want to help me either”. He didn’t seem to be in genuine distress (and looked plenty buoyant) so I just smiled and suggested he swim, which he did. I did look back later to see he had regained the ski and was heading back towards the boat ramp.

Back to kayaks, I have heard that coastal authorities in some areas have begun to discourage, if not outright ban, inflatables from their waters. Problem is that there are competent high end inflatables and people who paddle them. But this story is yet another example why the public and the authorities have a vested interest in making PFD use mandatory for BOTH adults and children. In my state, it is only mandated for kids under 12.

It can happen easily
Scary story.

This happened recently to my mom and me. We had been paddling our canoe for a couple years in canals and calm water. No problems.

We took the canoe out into a pass, apparently at the wrong time, when there was a strong current. We got knocked out by boat wake and a jet ski had to rescue us. We had just bought PFDs the day before after not having any for two years.

I never knew current was so strong. Learned a few good lessons.

We all make mistakes…
a tragedy like this reminds us not to make this one.

Life vests
Thumbs Up

Why wear a PFD?
Because you have the skill and judgement to make the following accessment:

  • Only go out in a craft that’s suitable for the location and condition

  • And as part of that accessment, you made a judgement to wear a PFD to further enhance your safety.

    Then and only then, the PFD is PART of the safety package, not the ONLY safety “item”, because SOMEONE on the internet said it’s important!

    The victim in this case didn’t have the skill to make the proper accessement. As part of his lack of such skill, he also didn’t wear a PFD.

    A PFD is only useful when you already made the first mistake…

With or without a PFD…
With or without a PFD, this really should have been just an inconvenience.

While he should have been wearing a PFD, he also may have been missing other necessary “safety equipment” (skill and experience).

Die with vest on – sure !
People kayaking or canoeing can still drown even though they are wearing a life jacket

  1. Lifejacket not right size/type for conditions, old, worn out, broken, torn or worn improperly.

  2. Vessel capsized and wearer trapped inside

  3. Entrapment due to rocks or debris or severe water hydraulics

  4. Wearer drowned from wave splash (mouth immersions) before rescue

  5. Wearer sustained other injury which prevented keeping face out of water or injury restricted airway.

  6. Wearer became unconscious and was not wearing a self‐righting life jacket model.

  7. Failing of self‐righting life jackets.

Makes the body easier to find.

Bad location
I paddled this location earlier this summer - up the Nissequogue River and back, starting at the big boat launch near LI Sound. The trip up was fine, on the way back down, the outgoing tide and strong (~20 knots) incoming wind kicked up 2 foot whitecaps. It was bad enough that I beached the kayak and walked 2 miles to the car rather than kayak the last half mile. When I got to the launch, the outgoing current was at least 4 knots and there were a LOT of big boats going in and out at high speed, kicking up big wakes. The water in the sound looked treacherous. I will not be going back.

BTW, of the dozen or so paddlers I saw, I was the only one wearing a PFD on the river that day. I see where the officer involved had diver training at one point, which maybe gave him too much confidence in this area. Just terrible to read…

I dont know
I dont see the problem. I only wear my seat belt and motorcycle helmet when I know I’m going to have an accident. Why wear them all the time?

Why have the skills to handle boat wake?


– Last Updated: Aug-16-11 1:01 PM EST –

~started off as a housing cop,
did driver training
and then began work in 2000.

He could do work inside an automobile, but NOT on water !

- not a certified diver, no water certs

missed the ‘r’ in ‘driver’ - my mistake…

Why wear a PFD ?
Why not? Locally, a paddler drowned two weeks ago after renting a SUP in chop above his skill level. the renter didn’t give him a leash and just an inflatable pfd which is the same as not wearing one at all. one way to stay out of the news is to wear your pfd.

why not wear one?

-it makes me sweaty


-cost too much

-i don’t look cool in one.

-i’m a good swimmer (but for how long and in cold water or long distances?)

-nothing’s going to happen to me. :slight_smile:

why wear one?

-thermal protection

-pockets to store stuff in (energy bar, whistle, water, hat, etc…

-good visiabilty to boaters

-floats you in case of a wet exit mishap, injury, or rescue

-impact protection in surfing large waves or shallow reefs

-it’s the law

downsides to inflatable PFDs:

  • if you have a shoulder injury you most likely won’t be able to pull the tab to fire the co2 cartridge when trying to tread water or similar.
  • if panicked and are treading water, same as above.
  • no thermal protection
  • have you actually tested it? most i know haven’t.
  • do you clean it regularly particiuliarly from saltwater?
  • etc.

wind speed
from the account I read both the father and son got separated from the kayak. I bet what happened is the boat wake flipped them out and a strong wind blew the inflatable away from him before he could grab it.

I just see inflatables as kids toys.

Sad story RIP

"-it’s the law"

What law?