Best Place to Put PFDs While You’re Out on Your Boat: A Buoyant Guide for Safe Sailing

where is the best place to put PFDs while out on your boat

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2000 and 2019, 266 fishermen died from falls overboard, representing 30% of all fatalities. None of the victims were wearing a functional Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when they died.

When it comes to boating safety, personal flotation devices (PFDs) are a crucial piece of equipment. Ensuring that they are easily accessible and visible in case of an emergency can make all the difference in a critical situation. But where is the best place to put PFDs while out on your boat? The answer lies in striking a balance between visibility, accessibility, and practicality.

The ideal location for storing PFDs on a boat is on the top deck where passengers are seated, as this can significantly reduce the time it takes to locate and grab them in case of an emergency. PFDs can be stored in an open box or boat box seat, ensuring they are highly visible and not obstructed by other equipment or gear.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of where to place PFDs on your boat, let’s dive into some more details on factors to consider when ensuring they are secure, well-maintained and ready for action when required, so continue reading for some essential tips and insights.

Selecting the Right Storage Area

Selecting the Right Storage Area

When it comes to storing personal flotation devices (PFDs) on a boat, it is essential to choose the right location to ensure their effectiveness and ease of use during an emergency. This section delves into the factors that one should consider while selecting the perfect storage area for PFDs on a boat.


One of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a storage area for PFDs is their accessibility. In an emergency, seconds can make the difference between life and death. Ensuring that PFDs are within easy reach for all passengers is vital. For instance, storing PFDs on the top deck of the boat can be a practical choice as it is generally closer to passengers’ seating areas.


Another crucial aspect to consider when selecting the right storage area for PFDs is visibility. One may wonder, “what good is a life-saving device if nobody can find it when needed?”. In this regard, it’s advisable to place PFDs in an open bin or basket where passengers can easily spot them. Remember, a hidden PFD is equivalent to a missing PFD during emergencies!

Protection from Elements

Last but not least, it is essential to choose a storage area for PFDs that safeguards them from the elements. PFDs subjected to prolonged exposure to sunlight, moisture, or other environmental factors may degrade over time, leading to reduced functionality when they are needed the most.

So, when settling for a storage area, it would be wise to ponder over questions like, “Does this spot shield the PFDs from scorching sun rays?”, or “Will this location keep them dry and free from mould?”. Striking a balance between accessibility, visibility, and protection from the elements will ensure that the PFDs are in prime condition and more than ready to fulfil their life-saving mission.

In summary, while on your boating adventure, the selection of the right storage area for PFDs can be a matter of life and death. By paying attention to accessibility, visibility, and protection from the elements, you can make your boat not only enjoyable but also a safer place for everyone on board.

Types of PFD Storage Solutions

Types of PFD Storage Solutions

Finding the perfect spot to store your personal flotation devices (PFDs) on your boat is quite essential. Not just from a space-saving perspective, but also to ensure that they remain readily accessible in case of emergencies. In this section, we’ll skim through some PFD storage ideas, including storage bags and containers, life jacket holders, and mounted racks.

Storage Bags and Containers

When it comes to efficient storage, bags and containers are a popular choice among the boating community. These crafty solutions not only aid in orderly organisation, but also serve as protective covers for your PFDs, shielding them from the elements.

Apart from their utility, storage bags and containers also come in a variety of sizes and styles, catering to your boat’s specific needs. So whether you’re stashing away your inflatable life jackets or foam PFDs, these versatile contraptions are sure to accommodate them all.

Life Jacket Holders

Life jacket holders are specifically designed for accommodating, you guessed it, life jackets! An elegant storage solution, these holders can be easily installed on the walls or rails of your boat. Some designs even allow the jackets to be hung, allowing them to dry out after use.

A nifty feature of these holders is that they boast a see-through front, enabling you to keep an eye on your prized PFDs at all times. In a nutshell, life jacket holders make a great option for those keen on combining convenience with aesthetic appeal.

Mounted Racks

Ever considered turning your PFDs into part of your boat’s decor? With mounted racks, you’re one step closer to realising this dream! Mounted racks can be affixed to walls, ceilings, or even under seats, providing a secure and stylish storage space for your PFDs.

Some racks even come equipped with adjustable arms, enabling you to customise the set-up to accommodate different PFD types and sizes. Furthermore, mounted racks are often crafted from corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel, ensuring that they withstand the test of time.

Ultimately, the key to choosing the right PFD storage solution lies in assessing your boat’s available space, your preferred style, and ease of access during emergencies. Keep these factors in mind and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a safe and organised boating environment.

PFD Care and Maintenance

PFD Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your personal flotation devices (PFDs) are essential for ensuring their performance and lifespan on your boat. This section will provide guidelines on how to inspect, clean, and replace your PFDs when necessary.


Regular inspection of your PFDs is crucial for detecting any issues early on. Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed straps or damaged buckles. Additionally, look for any faded colours or mould, which may indicate the PFD has been exposed to excessive sunlight or moisture.

Don’t forget to squeeze the foam inside the PFD to ensure it remains buoyant and springs back into shape after compression. If you spot any issues, address them immediately or consider replacing your PFDs.


Keeping your PFDs clean is not only important for hygiene reasons, but it also helps maintain their effectiveness. After contact with saltwater, it is necessary to rinse your PFDs with fresh water. If soap is needed, opt for mild and environmentally-friendly options.

Avoid using gasoline, detergents, or harsh chemicals when cleaning your PFDs, as they may damage the material and affect buoyancy. Remember to gently squeeze out any excessive water and let your PFDs air dry in a well-ventilated area before storing them away.


Even with proper care and maintenance, PFDs will eventually need to be replaced as they wear out or become less effective. Manufacturer guidelines may provide a suggested replacement schedule, but it is wise to trust your judgement and replace them if you have any concerns about their condition or performance.

Remember, your PFDs are an essential component of boating safety, and investing in new PFDs is always worth it when it comes to protecting your passengers and yourself.

In conclusion, taking care of your PFDs should become a routine part of your boating activities. Regular inspection, cleaning, and replacement will ensure that your PFDs are in top condition, ready to provide the necessary protection when you’re out on the water.

Legal Requirements and Recommendations

Legal Requirements and Recommendations

When it comes to safety on the water, it’s essential to know and follow the legal requirements and recommendations for Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) aboard your boat. As a responsible boater, be vigilant about understanding and adhering to these guidelines.

One legal mandate for boats larger than 15 feet is the need for a Type IV PFD on board. Before gearing up for your aquatic adventure, it’s crucial to ensure each PFD’s size aligns with the passenger’s age, weight, and chest measurement. For instance, exceptions are made for children under 20 lbs. and those with chest measurements exceeding 55 inches.

Beyond meeting legal requirements, keep an eye out for Coast Guard-verified markings on your PFDs as a guarantee of adequacy. Whilst navigating the open seas, remember that different types of PFDs provide varying levels of safety. Familiarise yourself with the options available, such as the recommended Type I PFDs for all waterways, turbulent seas, and open oceans.

Here are some noteworthy points you might consider adding to your boating safety checklist:

  • Store PFDs in a clearly visible and easily accessible location on your boat, such as the top deck.
  • Ensure PFDs are in a safe area and remain free from obstructions.
  • Regularly check your PFDs for any signs of wear, tear, or damage, and replace as necessary.
  • Educate your fellow passengers on proper PFD use to boost their confidence in case of emergency.

Remember, dear boater, prioritising safety isn’t just about ticking boxes on a legal checklist; it’s about ensuring everyone aboard can fully enjoy their maritime adventure with peace of mind. So set sail, keep these tips in mind, and may the wind always be at your back!

Final Thoughts! PFDs

Final Thoughts!

In a nautical world full of thrilling adventures and enchanting marine life, floating into the sunset might seem like a dream come true. However, as a responsible boater, it’s essential to prioritise safety, especially when it comes to placing your PFDs onboard.

When it comes to PFD placement, “out of sight, out of mind” is a sinking strategy. On the contrary, visibility and accessibility are key. Aim to store your PFDs on the top deck, within easy reach of your passengers. Forget hiding them in locked compartments—having them in an open box, basket, or hung in a visible location is the way to go.

And, why stick to the plain old orange PFDs when there’s a plethora of colourful, stylish options out there? Match them with your boat’s aesthetic, and they could become a fashionable, floating accessory. Although, do remember that bright colours and reflective elements can be a lifesaver in low visibility situations.

Our love for boating might seemingly know no bounds, but the sea is a force to be reckoned with. So let us embark on our voyages with due care and diligence, embracing the wisdom of the PFD as a beacon of hope in the relentless waves. Now, the question remains: will you hoist your PFDs like a proud pirate flag or tuck them neatly in a stylishly decked-out box?

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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