What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?

What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD? When it comes to personal flotation devices, you’ll find that your options are plentiful. You can find a wide assortment of PFD, but they’re not equal. It is pertinent to spend time learning more about the devices and their benefits. Regardless, you cannot go boating unless the vessel has ample PFDs for all passengers.

There are several types with Type IV PFDs being one of the most important. These PFDs are designed to ensure that they can be tossed into the water when someone goes overboard.

What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?

The Type IV PFD is beneficial because it can be thrown overboard. It is not worn by anyone on the boat. Instead, it is thrown to the person who has fallen overboard. One thing to note is that this personal flotation device will work exceptionally well for everyone involved.

The same device will work for children and adults. Many people have questions about personal flotation devices and the different types. How are they different?

Below, you’ll learn more about Type IV Personal Flotation Devices and their immense benefits.

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More About The Type IV PFD

What is the type IV PFD? Unfortunately, a lot of people have this question. According to the United States Coast Guard, this is the fourth level of personal flotation device. It is imperative for boaters to carry one of these PFDs with them at all times.

Type IV PFDs are unique because they’re not worn by the boater or passenger. Instead, they’re going to be tossed to someone who has fallen overboard. If someone falls over and they cannot swim, the IV PFD could save their life.

The Type IV PFD is also referred to as the throwable flotation device. On commercial boats and in swimming boats, it is called a circular flotation ring. If you’re operating a recreational boat that is longer than 16 feet, it is important to have at least one of these personal flotation devices.

Remember that the boat will need at least one personal flotation device for each passenger. In addition to that, you can use a combination of wearable PFDs and throwable PFDs. Just remember that the wearable personal flotation device must fit the passenger.

You’ll also want to purchase PFDs for adults, children, and pets who are going to be riding with you.

Primary Types Of IV PFDs

It is important to learn more about the specific types of IV PFDs. Although you can find a few oddities here and there, most match the specified requirements. Below, you will learn more about the most common IV PFDs that are accepted by the Coast Guard.

  • Bouyant Cushions

These square cushions have no holes. These personal flotation devices tend to have two straps so the person onboard can prevent the PFD from floating away. All they have to is place their arm in the strap to prevent it from floating away.

However, you don’t need to place your arm in the PFD, but doing so might be a good idea. As for the overboard patient, they can place this personal flotation device under their chest. Doing so allows them to float on top of it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to paddle with your legs and float through the water.

Read More: Best Way To Check The Buoyancy Of Your PFD?

  • Ring Buoys

These IV personal flotation devices are the most common. Whether you’re swimming in a pool or boating, there is a good chance that you’ll encounter these PFDs. Today, some of these devices feature lights to make them more effective at night.

  • Horseshoe Buoys

Finally, you have horseshoe buoys. This personal flotation device has a horseshoe shape. They are usually manufactured with a plastic cell core that is concealed by a vinyl cover. You’ll find that these PFDs can be purchased in a variety of colors. However, most of them are yellow, red, or white.

What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?

More About The Type IV PFD

When boating, it is important for each passenger to wear a life jacket. As a result, some people argue that type IV PFDs are unnecessary. Is this the case? No. Type IV personal flotation devices are vitally important since they offer more protection.

These personal flotation devices offer a handful of benefits that cannot be found anywhere else. They’ll be explored in greater depth below.

Works For All

One thing to note is that the Type IV PFD is designed to accommodate everyone. It doesn’t matter whether the overboard patient is a child or adult, it will work for them. Unlike other personal flotation devices, the Type IV personal flotation device is not worn by the passenger.

Instead, it is tossed overboard so the passenger can grab it. The size of the passenger and the PFD doesn’t matter. A woman’s life jacket likely won’t fit a man or a child. With Type IV PFDs, there are no size requirements.

It will work great for anyone and everyone. It is still a good idea to wear a life jacket, but a Type IV PFD will provide more protection.


Another thing to note is that Type IV PFDs are designed to help passengers return to the boat. Some of these devices have ropes attached to them. When they do, it guarantees that the boat’s crew will be able to tug on the rope and pull the passenger back to the boat.

The PFD is tossed to the overboard person who grabs onto it. Then, the passenger can be pulled back to the boat. Ultimately, this is one of the safest and most effective ways to rescue the passenger.

By using one of these personal flotation devices, you don’t need to jump into the water to rescue the victim. Instead, you can toss them the PFD. Then, they can grab it and you can pull them back toward the boat. Using a Type IV PFD is an excellent way to simplify the situation and make it safer for everyone involved.

The only downside is that some of these PFDs do not have ropes. You’ll want to research until you find PFDs that do have ropes because they make a big difference.

Locating The Passenger

Finally, you’ll appreciate the fact that Type IV PFDs can help locate the passenger. The water is going to be swift, so it’ll likely be difficult to pinpoint the victim. Using a PFD stops this from happening.

Once the victim grabs onto the PFD, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll be able to see the individual in question. Once they’ve grabbed the PFD, you’ll always know where the individual is located.

As a result, this will make it much easier to identify and rescue the victim. Just remember that you should not ignore wearable PFDs. You’ll want to make sure that the passengers are using those as well.

Type IV PFD And Canoeing And Kayaking

All kayaks and canoes must carry at least one PFD. The USCG is flexible when it comes to these recreational watercraft. As long as your kayak or canoe is equipped with either a Type I, Type II, or Type III personal flotation device, you are heeding the “Kayaking Life Jacket Law.”

You must also carry a PFD for each passenger. Again, you can choose from the three aforementioned devices.

Some kayaks are also equipped with a Type IV device. The decision to invest in a throwable PFD will definitely play in your favor. While this is not a USCG requirement, the Type IV throwable will double as a seat cushion. Paddling is a strenuous activity that requires a lot of strength whether you are alone or in a group.

Correct positioning is key to a pain-free rowing motion, which is why many paddlers opt to kneel instead of sit on top of the kayak.

If you choose to kneel instead of sit, you may find the Type IV throwable advantageous for your rowing needs and preferences. You can utilize it to prop up your knee to minimize the risk of discomfort and poor positioning.

Coast Guard Throwable Regulations

The US Coast Guard (USCG) requires all watercraft over 16 feet long to carry a Type IV throwable PFD. The main reason why the USCG only requires water vessels over 16 feet to have one throwable PFD is because of its diversity. TYPE IV PFDs are diverse, meaning they are suitable for children over the age of 13 and above. Instead of toting around a throwable for every passenger, the one TYPE IV PFD will suffice.

Read Also: Where Is The Best Place To Put PFDs While You Are Out On A Boat?


Protecting yourself and passengers should be your main priority when on the waters. While the US Coast Guard is responsible for recreational and commercial PFDs, skippers have responsibilities as well.

You are required by law to have a PFD for yourself and every passenger aboard your boat. You can choose from the Type I, Type II, Type II, Type IV, and Type V PFD, all of which are designed for specific usages.

Type IV PFDs are versatile, as they are suitable for children, teens, and adults. The three Type IV PFDs include the life ring, horseshoe buoy, and buoyant cushion, all of which provide similar benefits. Weigh your options before investing to ensure you get it right the first go-round.

Knowing the Coast Guard PFD regulations will keep you and your passengers legal at all times.

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