Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) PSA

Dear Dragon Boat Community,

Arising from two (2) capsize incidents in the recently concluded 32nd Singapore River Regatta 2014 that saw people getting immersed in the water. There were two (2) near drownings and several cases of people going under and/or unable to float adequately, even though they were wearing Personal Floatation Devices (PFD).

SDBA’s investigation revealed that these were due to the quality as well as the way the PFD were used. In both capsize incident, the teams were wearing the common slip-on type PFD favoured by almost everyone in the dragon boat community. Enclosed is a photo of the slip-on type PFD demonstrated by the Singapore Polytechnic team.

SDBA established the following findings:-

  1. The slip-on type PFD are not weight rated specific and so may not be suitable for heavier person(s).
  2. Most have been altered or modified by teams and individuals for more paddling comfort (i.e. folded in half, the use of 1 instead of 2 straps, etc).
  3. Many are no longer serviceable due to wear and tear or inadequate maintenance

In the interest of safety, SDBA instruct all dragon boaters to check the functionality of their PFD, especially if you are using the slip-on type. To test, do the following:-

  1. Immerse the PFD in water of a safe and reasonable depth. The PFD should float fully on the water (without any major component immersed in the water at all)
  2. Put on the PFD according to its designed function (with all straps attached) and immerse yourself in water of a safe and reasonable depth. The PFD should be sufficient to keep at least your upper torso (shoulders and above as minimum) out of the water
  3. If the PFD failed EITHER ONE OF THE ABOVE, replace the PFD.

For the long term, SDBA has created a special joined task force with specialists and our industry partners to look into improving the safety governance on the wearing of PFD for dragon boating.

The near drowning incidents (even though while wearing PFD) in the Singapore River Regatta is a serious warning to all of us. Tragedy was only averted by luck and chance. Our sport cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the warnings.

SDBA therefore would like to inform all dragon boaters to expect sweeping changes in the governance of the wearing of PFD for dragon boat activities. Stay tuned.

Singapore Dragon
Boat Association
founded 1987

Get in touch

c/o Sport Singapore, 3 Stadium Drive, #01-33
Singapore 397630
Phone:(+65) 6440 9763
Fax:(+65) 6345 2482
Mr. Lim Wee Kok