Lifejackets are an essential safety measure when it comes to water activities. Whether you’re a swimmer or a non-swimmer, wearing a lifejacket can significantly increase your chances of survival in an emergency. But how do lifejackets work? What’s the difference between a lifejacket and a buoyancy aid? And what does it mean to be #LifejacketSafe?
Lifejackets vs. Buoyancy Aids
Both lifejackets and buoyancy aids are classified as personal flotation devices (PFDs). However, there are key distinctions between the two. A lifejacket provides full support to the wearer in the water, rotating them into a face-up position, even if they are unconscious. It also offers greater buoyancy, keeping the airway clear. On the other hand, a buoyancy aid provides extra buoyancy but does not fully support the wearer. It is suitable for competent swimmers and should only be worn when help is nearby.
How a Lifejacket Keeps You Safe
The main objective of a lifejacket is to protect your airway. By rotating you into a face-up position and increasing mouth freeboard, a lifejacket ensures your visibility in the water. Reflective tape and a highly visible bladder further enhance your chances of being spotted. Additionally, lifejackets come equipped with a whistle to attract attention in an emergency. Higher-rated lifejackets include lifting beckets, which can be used to lift the wearer to safety. Optional features like a lifejacket light, spray hood, and emergency beacon offer additional protection and increase your chances of rescue.
Newton is a metric measurement of force used to indicate the buoyancy of a lifejacket. The higher the number, the greater the buoyancy. For example, a 150N lifejacket can support a person with a weight of 15.3Kg or 33.7lbs in the water. When choosing a lifejacket, consider factors such as the intended use, the need for additional clothing, and the distance from help.
Choosing the Right Buoyancy Aid
Buoyancy aids are approved to the 50N standard, but some are designed to provide more buoyancy for specific activities. For whitewater paddling or sports with fast running water, a 70N buoyancy aid is recommended. It’s important to select the appropriate buoyancy aid for your specific water activity.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Lifejacket
In an emergency, there is no time to learn how your equipment works. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your lifejacket in a safe environment. Proper fitting and understanding the features of your lifejacket are crucial. Wearing it correctly not only ensures optimal performance but also increases comfort. Remember to replace any rearming parts after in-water familiarization training.
Head Types: Hammar vs. Automatic
Lifejacket heads are activated by water, but the mechanisms differ. A Hammar head is protected by a valve and activates only after reaching a certain depth, providing resistance to exposure during heavy weather. On the other hand, an automatic head relies on the lifejacket cover for resistance to wave action. Consider the expected water conditions and choose the appropriate head type.
Manual vs. Automatic Inflation
Not all lifejackets automatically inflate when you fall into the water. Some are designed for manual activation only. It’s essential to know the type of lifejacket you’re wearing and whether it suits the activity. Inflatable gas lifejackets come with a manual override, so make sure you know its location and accessibility.
Optional Extras: Sprayhood and Light
Not all lifejackets come equipped with a spray hood and light as standard features. Check the specifications of your lifejacket to know what is included and consider additional features based on your needs.
Understanding Product Serial Numbers
Product serial numbers follow a standard format. They indicate the year of assembly, the month, and a unique serial number. Properly recording and identifying serial numbers helps ensure traceability and quality control.
Wearing a Lifejacket: What Not to Do
Never wear anything over your lifejacket, such as a sailing coat. Doing so can interfere with its performance and prevent it from inflating in an emergency. Keep your lifejacket clear and unobstructed.
The #LifejacketSafe campaign aims to raise awareness about lifejacket safety. Wearing a lifejacket correctly and maintaining it properly are crucial for your safety. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you wear a lifejacket and wear it correctly?
- Do you get your lifejacket serviced annually?
- Do you wear the right lifejacket for your activity?
- Do you follow care and maintenance guidelines?
Remember, all Crewsaver lifejackets come with a user manual that provides essential information and tips. Familiarize yourself with its contents and keep it accessible for reference when needed.
For more #LifejacketSafe tips, follow Crewsaver on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you have any other questions, visit East Coast Paddle Sports for further assistance.
Watch the video below to understand the importance of wearing a lifejacket: