If you’re not familiar with the US Coast Guard rating system, the different types of life jackets and ratings can be confusing.
For many, choosing an adult life jacket can be primarily about finding a PFD that will right an unconscious person.
So, the question becomes: which type of PFD will turn most unconscious people face up in water?
For that there are several answers:
3 Types of PFDs to Turn Unconscious Person Face Up
Type I, Type II, and Type III vests are all excellent choices when looking to turn an unconscious person face up, but a Type 1 is the only vest that is specifically designed for such a feature.
- Type 1 life jackets are the most heavy duty life vests designed for normal recreational and commercial use. These are offshore vests, intended for rough water, ocean conditions and for an individual spending a long time in the water before rescue. These are almost always designed to turn most unconscious people face up in water, since they are designed for rougher, higher risk boating conditions. These vests typically provide 22lbs of buoyancy, more than enough to keep individuals afloat.
- Type 2 life jackets are also an excellent choice for turning an unconscious person face up. These vests are designed for inland or calmer, near shore ocean conditions and provide 15.5 lbs of buoyancy. Individuals should check with individual brands for righting capabilities before purchase.
- Type 3 life jackets also provide 15.5 lbs of buoyancy and are intended for calmer inland waters, but they are less likely than Type II or Type I vests to right an unconscious individual. Instead, Type III vests should be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine whether or not they are suitable for this purpose.
If your priority is the ability to have the life jacket turn an unconscious person face up in the water, then your best bet is going to be a type 1, or possibly a type 2 vest.
Regardless of which life vest you choose, you should always check with the manufacturer statements about approved conditions for the vest. This information is readily available, and will depend on the specific brand in question. You can browse adult life jackets here.
Also keep in mind that life jackets only work when worn! Even the best vest can’t turn an unconscious person face up if the vest remains on the boat while the person is in the water!
The United States Coast Guard recommends individuals wear a life jacket at all times when on the water.