The Flow State: Episode 2 Show Notes (Rescue PFDs)

Welcome to our show notes for Episode 2 of the Flow State, where we talk about rescue PFDs. Show notes are here to explain some fine points, offer some outside resources, and give you a good overview of the show itself.

Feel free to leave comments, questions, or suggestions for future episodes in the comment section below. Enjoy!

  • Come see our new location at Saluda Outfitters! You can find lots of necessary rescue equipment, including PFDs, knives, and throw bags at the shop. If you’re a student of ours, you can gain a 10% discount off any essential paddling gear in the 7 days prior and 7 days after your class with us. (Less than $100 = 10%, more than $200 = 20%).
  • Don’t just stand there, do something! Common Sense Rescue, August 25-27, now with a Friday evening chalk-talk. Focus in on quick, simple rescues and prevention.
  • Rescue PFDs are Type V, a special use rating from the US Coast Guard, and specific to whitewater. Details for the PFD are inside the PFD itself:
    • UL Rating System- Underwriter Laboratories test equipment to meet specific standards.
    • User weight range and chest size should also be found on the inside of the PFD.
  • Permitted trips through the National Parks system require US Coast Guard approved PFDs in good conditions. PFDs outside of this process- albeit fully functional and appropriate- are not sufficient if they do not carry the US Coast Guard approval (ie. PFDs made internationally may not have this rating).
  • Type V PFDs are ‘near-shore,’ not ‘life jackets.’ They are designed as swimming aids as they will not roll you over if unconscious.
  • There’s a few things that set a Type V Rescue PFD apart:
    • Built in rescue harness. Quick release is sewn in to place so that it does not move. That’s the danger of using an after-market harness on a vest that was not intended to serve as a rescue vest!
    • Webbing loops x2: this prevents the O ring from walking past these webbing loops. Keeps webbing flat, untwisted, and bearing a load relatively evenly.
    • Tri-glide: US Coast Guard way v alternative threading. The Coast Guard recommends a full thread through the tri-glide.
      • Personal preference dictates how you thread the tri-glide. When you’re clipping in to a life line, proper threading is mandatory. When you’re using your rescue harness to tow gear, etc. you may want to consider alternative threading to relase more quickly.
  • Trimming webbing belt AFTER putting on all your thick, bulky winter gear so that the webbing can’t fold over and kink, getting locked in the buckle. If you choose to make this modification, make sure there’s no bubbles in the melted webbing so that it can easily travel through the tri-glide.
    • Webbing is cut at an angle to help with threading.
  • Keep an eye on the toggle for the buckle; check the knot that holds the toggle in place so that it doesn’t come undone. The toggle itself can also degrade from UV and crack/break off. Check this area for wear regularly.
  • We like to wear our pin kits on us, inside the PFD. This means we’ll always have access to, at the very least, a simple pin kit, even if we are separated from our kayaks.
  • Tow tethers: think hard before you clip in to a boat, especially one that is still full of water! Here’s a good video about boat draining.
    • More so than clipping in to a boat, a tow tether can be very helpful in maintaining your own equipment while you’re managing a situation.
    • Chris uses a Black Diamond Magnetron locking carabiner on his tow tether as it offers the quickness of a non-locking carabiner with the security of one with a locking gate. Keep an eye on sand and sediment getting in to the lock.
    • Do NOT attach your tow tether to a hard point! Releasing your quick release with the tether attached to, say, your PFD strap, you’re still attached.
    • Be mindful of zipper storage pockets for the tether as these can be difficult to manage after you’ve released your quick release.
  • Care: UV is the biggest degrader of PFD quality over time. Check in on your PFD’s buoyancy over time; this is best done by floating it when you first purchase the vest so you have a baseline for floatation. Over time, go for a float or swim to make sure that the vest is still floating you appropriately. Plus, don’t forget that swimming is a skill, and you should be comfortable doing so in your river environment and in your normal river gear.
    • Exercise caution buying a PFD second hand. It can be difficult to qualify the quality of a vest from an owner, and it’s tough to know what kind of stress or wear a vest has endured over the course of its life. This is your life line!
  • Anyone at any level can benefit from rescue training, but know that our community standard dictates that if you wear or carry equipment, you know how to use it.
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