PFD Label Explanations
PFD Label Explanations:
“KAYAKSPORT” This is the “intended use” statement as required by the Coast Guard. The designation “KAYAKING AND SAILING VEST” is the manufacturer’s suggested uses that do not necessarily limit this PFD to only those uses.
“APPROVED . . .” As required by Coast Guard regulations, this is the “approved use” section. It must include the boat sizes on which this life jacket may be used and the weight (more than 90 lbs.) of the person for which the life jacket is designed. The “ML” is the stamp of the manufacturer’s inspector.
“U.S. Coast Guard Approval . . .” The first six-digits of the approval number 160.064 indicates the Federal Regulation under which the Coast Guard approved this life jacket. The regulation section numbers differ by type of life jacket being approved.
“Do not dry clean” All life jackets are required to have a “no dry cleaning” warning, which must be displayed in bold print. The solvents and heat used in the dry cleaning process can disintegrate the foam used for flotation.
“Not intended for . . . ” Underwriters’ Laboratory tests the structural integrity of the life jacket by placing it in a frame and dropping it into the water from a boat at six different angles. Often a buckle will explode or a zipper seam will peel like a banana. This disclaimer appears because many people mistake the structural integrity test for an endorsement of high speed use. No life jacket should be used for waterskiing or similar use unless it has been tested at at least 50 mph. Older PFDs may say ‘impact tested’ instead of ‘strength tested’ but this is no indication of personal protection from impact. Unless a person is trained, hitting the water at 50 mph can provide a similar experience to hitting the pavement after falling out of a car at the same speed.
“UL” Originally, the Coast Guard approved life jackets in-house. They now require the life jacket manufacturer to contract for this testing with a recognized sanctioned laboratory. Underwriters’ Laboratory performs extensive tests on the life jacket under the Coast Guard’s oversight. UL controls the entire contents of this label. The “ISSUE NO. B-8009” is UL’s reference number for this specific label. Any changes to the label, no matter how small, require UL’s acceptance.
“11041” The lot number usually contains in code the year and quarter of manufacture. A lot cannot consist of more than 1,000 life jackets. A new lot must be started any time materials or production methods change. The lot number is important when contacting the manufacturer or the Coast Guard.
“WARNING” Carrying carabineers, fishing gear or hunting ammunition in the pockets of the life jacket can reduce flotation as well as the ability of a life jacket to right an unconscious victim in the water.
“Polyvinyl chloride foam” Different materials are used for flotation. Polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene foams are most commonly used. Foams do not readily absorb water over time. Avoid chemicals, fumes or excessive heat, which could break down the integrity of the foam. This life jacket contains at least 15.5 lbs. of flotation. This is sufficient flotation to keep the heads of 95 percent of the American population out of the water. Life jackets with 22 lbs. of flotation will keep 99 percent of the heads out of the water.
“Not intended to be fastened to the boat.” Any life jacket that has fasteners or straps other than the closures must have this warning. A life jacket fastened to the boat is not readily accessible in the case of an emergency. With the exception of some Type V PFDs, this also means that wearers should not fasten themselves to the boat.
“Model #” Each manufacturer uses a model number, which usually indicates the type and size of the life jacket. The model number and lot number are important to know when contacting the manufacturer at the listed address.
“Test this device . . . ” For flotation to work, the device must be submerged below the water and displace water equal to the weight of the wearer’s head. Unless it is fastened tightly, many vests will “ride up” under the arms.