© Hydrodynamic Industrial Co. Ltd
  Technology & Regulations  

As probably the largest manufacturer of Personal Floatation Devices (PFD’s) in the world Hydrodynamic has produced PFD’s for most major name brands. Not only do we manufacture PFD’s for many of these companies, we also assist in the design as well as provide custom materials Hydrodynamic has developed to allow them to remain competitive in a very aggressive market.

The PFD market is special in that most PFD’s must be Coast Guard approved in the various counties they are sold. Also PFD’s may need such approvals such as UL certification.

Hydrodynamics has invested both time and money to make sure that we have all the required approvals you need for your markets. We also have developed new materials and processes we hold several Patents for.

Hydrodynamics can help you get into this market and stay competitive, as well as meeting all the rigorous requirements needed. What can we do for you? If you can think of it, we at Hydrodynamic will make it for you, even better.

Federal Requirements and Safety Tips for Recreational Boats Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)
All recreational boats must carry one wearable PFD (Type I, II, III or Type V PFD) for each person aboard. A Type V PFD provides performance of either a Type I, II, or III PFD (as marked on its label) and must be used according to the label requirements. Any boat 16ft and longer (except canoes and kayaks) must also carry one throwable PFD (Type IV PFD).

PFDs must be Coast Guard approved, in good and serviceable condition, and the appropriate size for the intended user.

Wearable PFDs must be readily accessible. You must be able to put them on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.). They should not be stowed in plastic bags, in locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them. The best PFD is the one you will wear. Though not required, a PFD should be worn at all times when the vessel is underway. A wearable PFD can save your life, but only if you wear it. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use.

Inflatable PFDs:
Inflatable PFDs may be more comfortable to wear. The best PFD is the one you will wear. Inflatable PFDs require the user to pay careful attention to the condition of the device. Inflatable PFDs must have a full cylinder and all status indicators on the inflator must be green, or the device is NOT serviceable, and does NOT satisfy the requirement to carry PFDs. Coast Guard Approved Inflatable PFD’s are authorized for use on recreational boats by person at least 16 years of age.

Child PFD Requirements:
Some states require that children wear PFDs. Applies to children of specific ages applies to certain sizes of boats applies to specific boating operations. Check with your state boating safety officials. Child PFD approvals are based on the child’s weight. Check the User Weight on the label, or the approval statement that will read something like Approved for use on recreational boats and uninspected commercial vessels not carrying passengers for hire, by persons weighing __ lbs. They can be marked less than 30, 30 to 50, less than 50, or 50 to 90.

PFD requirements for certain boating activities under state laws:
The Coast Guard recommends and many states require wearing PFDs: For water skiing and other towed activities (use a PFD marked for water skiing). While operating personal watercraft (PWC) (use a PFD marked for water skiing or PWC use). During white water boating activities. While sailboarding (under Federal law, sailboards are not boats). Check with your state boating safety officials. Federal law does not require PFDs on racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes, and racing kayaks, state laws vary. Check with your state boating safety officials. If you are boating in an area under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, or a federal, state, or local park authority, other rules may apply.

PFD Flotation
1) There are three basic kinds of PFD flotation in the five types of PFDs with the following characteristics:
2) Inherently Buoyant (primarily Foam)
3) Adult, Youth, Child, and Infant sizes for swimmers & non-swimmers wearable & throwable styles some designed for water sports.


All PFDs that are DTC (Department of Transport Canada) approved have been submitted for testing by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) and approved in accordance with DTC regulations. That means that not only the design passes the approval criteria, but every component used on the device does as well.

The testing that ULC performs on a device evaluates not only its flotation characteristics, but also the strength of its design and construction. If a manufacturer makes even a small change that could impact any of these characteristics that have been tested for, they must resubmit the revised design for evaluation.

Although Lifejackets are approved by the Department of Transport (not Canadian Coast Guard) they still must comply to a very similar approval regiment. All Department of Transport’s (DOT) Approved Adult PFD’s have the same minimum amount of buoyancy, 15-1/2lbs. As a reference, the average adult weighs approximately 8lbs in the water.

Many larger people will ask the question, ‘How do I know the PFD will float me?’ For larger sized people, they can be assured that the device will float them. An approved PFD has a minimum of 15-1/2lbs of buoyancy - larger sizes, incrementally increase in buoyancy simply by the increase in surface area and the resulting increase in the amount of foam required to make that size. The rule is “If it fits you, it will float you.


CE standards deal with various categories of buoyancy performance, the big four are shown below. The rating is for an adult size so smaller sizes have proportionally less buoyancy:

EN ISO 12402-5
Covers 50N buoyancy aids, providing a minimum of 5kg of buoyancy.
Only suitable for good swimmers.
Only for sheltered water use where help is close at hand.
Only provides support to a conscious person who can help himself!
Not suitable for children (under 30 kg). Not a life jacket!

EN ISO 12402-4
Covers 100N lifejackets, providing a minimum of 10kg of buoyancy.
For use in inshore and coastal waters.
Not guaranteed to self-right an unconscious user (dependent on the type of clothing one is wearing).

EN ISO 12402-3
Covers 150N lifejackets, providing a minimum of 15kg of buoyancy.
For all waters.
May not immediately self-right an unconscious user wearing heavy, waterproof clothing

EN ISO 12402-2
Covers 275N lifejackets, providing a minimum of 27.5kg of buoyancy.
For offshore and severe conditions.
The buoyancy they provide should ensure they will self-right an unconscious user in the great majority of cases, even when wearing heavy waterproofs.

Competition vest is not approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, Canadian Department of Transport, or any other agency making official approvals of flotation devices.
NO EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES ARE MADE CONCERNING ITS USE OR MERCHANTABILITY. It is designed to allow free movement of tournament participants who find standard approved vests with adequate flotation too bulky.

Competition vest cannot be considered a safety vest or life preserver. It should be worn only by experienced tournament participants engaged in competitive events sanctioned by American Water Ski Association, Canadian Water Ski Association, World Water Ski Union, or similar organizations and only events where safety factors such as patrol boats and pickup boats are actively involved and the tournament participants are under constant observation. This vest should not be worn by anyone
who cannot swim. The buoyancy factor and its distribution in the vest are not sufficient to float a conscious or unconscious person in a “face out of the water position.” Before each use, the wearer should have this vest examined and approved by the tournament officials responsible for equipment inspection. However, even in such sanctioned tournaments, injury or drowning could occur while wearing competition vest. Competition vest must not be worn by tournament participants or others
under any other circumstances or conditions than those described above. For the purposes of compliance with applicable California statutes, manufacturer certifies
that competition vest is a waterski and wakeboard garment.