A recent rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary highlights the need for all boaters to wear their life jackets.
An 18-year-old man was rescued by a Hampton Roads Coast Guard Auxiliary crewmember on a routine patrol. The victim had been ejected from a jet ski at the mouth of the Perrin River, near Gloucester Point, Virginia.
The rescuer from the Auxiliarys District 5-South found the victim exhausted and without a life jacket in 59-degree water. The victim was pulled from the water and transported to a waiting ambulance at a local marina. The Auxiliary crew provided treatment for exposure, and after being examined at the hospital, the teenager was released and has now fully recovered.
The correct contemporary term for a life jacket is "Personnel Flotation Device" or PFD. PFD's are no longer the bulky, uncomfortable, awkward horseshoe device of past generations. They are lightweight and colorful devices, which come in a variety of sizes and materials for a wide range of boating activities.
Today's PFD's are made so that children will enjoy wearing them. In most states, children less than 12 years of age, who are not below deck in a cabin, are required to wear PFD's while on board a recreational vessel.
For adults, there are various U.S. Coast Guard approved types (based on buoyancy and the ability to turn an unconscious boater 'right-side up'). From the Off-Shore PFD to the Special Purpose Type V (such as automatic inflating PFD's), there is no longer a reason an adult boater should refuse to wear a PFD. Personal Water Craft (PWC) users, as well as paddle sport participants (kayaks, canoes, rafts, etc) should always wear a PFD while operating their vessels.
In many states, wearing a PFD is mandatory for Paddle Sport participants. Federal Law mandates PFD wear for PWC operators and guests.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of uniformed, non-military volunteer civilians who assist the Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.