Every USCG–approved PFD has a label that contains important information. While boating, you may encounter old- or new-style PFD labels.
Not all PFDs available are USCG approved. Regardless if the PFD label is in the old or new style, there must be a USCG approval number, and the PFD must be used in accordance with the labeling information to meet the legal requirements.
- The older legacy labels have a type number (Types I to V).
- The type number indicates the conditions and the intended use for which the PFD is designed.
- PFDs with these labels may still be used in the country where they are approved as long as they are in serviceable condition.
- The new labels have a performance level icon that contains a number, typically ranging from 50 to 150 (Level 50 does not currently meet USCG carriage requirements.)
- A lower number means the PFD is intended for near-shore activities in calm waters. PFDs designed for near-shore use offer greater mobility and comfort. However, they will not turn most unconscious persons face up.
- A higher number means the PFD is intended for offshore activities. PFDs designed for offshore use offer greater flotation, turning ability, and stability.
- PFDs with these labels are approved for use in both the U.S. and Canada.
The new PFD label is divided into three sections.
- Selection and Warning: This section includes the size of the PFD, performance information, etc.
- Certification and Approval: This section includes the USCG approval number, manufacturer’s information, etc.
- Care and Maintenance: This section includes information relating to the care and maintenance of the PFD.