Paddleboarding lost one of its own in April as experienced paddleboarder, Jeffrey Comer, 50, never returned from a SUP trip in Egmont Key Florida. Comer was an experienced SUP rider and in shape, but nonetheless may have gotten caught up in a late afternoon squall that swept him off his board and into an overwhelming surf, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Comer’s wallet, car keys and paddleboard were recovered, but Comer wasn’t.
There were no witnesses to Comer’s mishap and it isn’t clear whether Comer was wearing a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) required by Florida law. Regardless, a PFD can save your life if and when the unexpected happens.
Take a moment to glance over frequently asked questions regarding Personal Flotation Devices for SUP surfers in the Sunshine State. Whether you’re ‘SUPING’ at sea or skimming over inland lakes or waterways, paddleboard safety never takes a day off.
Top 5 FAQs about PFDs and Florida Paddleboarding
1. Are paddleboarders in Florida required by law to wear PFDs?
Unless used in the confines of a designated swimming, surfing or bathing area, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulations require all SUP enthusiasts over the age of six to either wear or carry a USCG-approved life jacket while paddleboarding. Paddleboards are classified as ‘vessels’ by the USCG and the safety of paddleboard passengers and operators are regulated similar to that of boating. Read about paddleboard safety in Florida.
2. Which PFDs or life jackets are USCG approved?
As per Florida law, type I, type II, type III, or type V personal flotation devices are acceptable. Inflatable devices not classified under one of these types are not acceptable. Learn which PFDs suit your needs.
3. Do I need to have a life jacket or PFD when paddleboarding on inland waterways in Florida?
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission you do. Keep in mind an aggressive surf isn’t the only way to drown while paddleboarding. Even the most physically fit paddleboarders can experience a stroke, heart attack or otherwise medical condition that may cause them to lose control of their board and to fall helplessly into the water.
4. Can I be fined or arrested for not wearing or having a PFD on board?
According to Florida Law not wearing or possessing a USCG-approved PFD while paddleboarding is a misdemeanor of the second degree and can result in a fine of up to $500.
5. What’s the best way to secure a PFD to my board if I don’t want to wear it?
SUPthings is dedicated to the sport of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) and bringing to market paddleboard accessories that are sensible, essential and easy to use. Visit us at www.supthings.com to view our line of easy-to-install, on-board cargo devices designed to secure PFDs, coolers, snorkel stuff and other gear up to 100 pounds. No drilling needed.