PFD Usage for Guides and Guests

PFD Usage for Guides and Guests

Let’s get right to the point. The worst thing that could possibly happen while you are guiding is one of your guests gets injured or killed. That’s right, I said killed. Don’t sluff it off, it happens.

Drowning is more common than you might think and in nearly all cases the victims were found not wearing a personal floatation device or “PFD.” In the old days we called them life jackets. Call it what you like, it’s a device that is designed to save lives, both yours and your guests. Remember, people are paying you a lot of money to go fishing or hunting with you and your number one concern is keeping them safe at all times. If someone gets hurt, it’s your fault, 99% of the time. An accidental death is a terrible tragedy and it affects many other lives too. You don’t want the family of one of your guests to “Attorney Sam Bernstein” your ass either!

The problem is that most of your guests will not want to wear a bulky PFD. And, what’s worse, the vast majority won’t be strong swimmers; some won’t be able to swim at all. Sure, you could insist your guests wear a PFD, but most will protest and don’t forget, we want then to book again for next year! So, here’s how to handle this situation. Have enough inflatable PFDs in camp for your guests. Yes, this will cost some coin, about $100 each or so, but the light-weight inflatables are so comfortable that almost all of your guests wouldn’t mind wearing one. I once cooked a shore lunch for twelve guys (took me two friggin’ hours) and I forgot to remove my inflatable PFD. One of the guests said, “Hey, Rugged Dude, are you afraid you might drown on the beach?” Obviously he was making a joke to notify me that I still had my vest on. They are so small and comfortable that I forgot I had the damn thing on! People normally don’t like wearing the full floatation vest because, let’s be real here, they do restrict movement to a point and especially for big guys and gals, they’re not the most comfortable. But, the inflatables are!

If you decide to purchase some inflatable PFDs either for yourself or for your guests, you have a choice. First, you can buy the type that inflates when a small rip cord / handle is pulled to activate the CO2 cartridge that’s installed inside the vest. The other type automatically inflates when it gets wet. The theory is that if someone falls overboard and is unable to pull the cord it will inflate automatically. I don’t recommend this one because if it rains enough the vest might inflate. Just go with the one that is inflated purposely by pulling the rip cord handle. Keep in mind that you’ll need a few replacement CO2 cartridges just in case one gets pulled either purposely by someone falling overboard (hopefully not!) or by some jerk clowning around. Yes, I’ve seen it.

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