The Coast Guard issued a Marine Safety Alert Dec. 15 warning that a number of Type I personal flotation devices (PFDs) manufactured by a major supplier and distributed nationwide were assembled in a way that could prevent proper donning of the PFD in the event of an emergency.
Several lots of Type I (Offshore) PFDs in both adult and child sizes have been found to have the chest strap threaded through the fixed “D” ring, which the strap is intended to clip to when worn.
Instead of the strap falling away, allowing the wearer to wrap it around his or her body, the clip end of the strap would snag in the “D” ring.
In the alert, Alert 09-10, the Coast Guard said that it “strongly recommends” that vessel owners/operators having any of the PFDs listed in the alert — Kent Adult Model 8830 (USCG Approval Number 160.055/184/0 in Lot 53W, manufactured in October 2006) and Kent Child Model 8820 (USCG Approval Number 160.055/150/0 in Lot 012T, manufactured in March 2008) check each life jacket by completely unwrapping the primary strap to ensure that it is free and that it is capable of being adjusted for any wearer.
The Coast Guard also encouraged vessel owners/operators to verify that all their PFDs, regardless of manufacturer, are in fully serviceable condition by inspecting the straps, components, fabric and flotation materials. Any significant deterioration in condition or poorly functioning hardware indicates a replacement is necessary, it said.
Type I PFDs are required aboard certain commercial vessels and are preferred by many recreational boaters, especially those who cruise offshore, because of the added safety features their construction provides over Type II and III PFDs. Their disadvantage is that they are less comfortable to wear and are more expensive.
Marine Safety Alerts are posted on the Coast Guard’s marineinvestigations.us website.