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Personal Floatation Device

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Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) or life jackets/life vests are critical safety equipment for every vessel. PFD's vary in construction, being either manually or automatically activated, and are rated depending on the usage and stature of the person wearing the item.

PFD's are available in an inflatable or ISO foam construction, and can be designed for leisure or commercial application. Inflatable lifejackets for recreational use are becoming increasingly popular. These C02 inflated garments are lighter and less cumbersome than conventional foam lifejackets and are quite versatile.

inflatable-lifejacket

foam-lifejacket

Lifejackets must be maintained along with manufacturer instructions to ensure they work correctly during an emergency.

Lifejackets are a key safety feature in recreational boating. A National Marine Safety Committee (NMSC) study found that people who survived a boating incident were more than two times more likely to have been wearing a lifejacket compared to those who died and concluded that if lifejacket usage increased to 50%, 2-3 lives could be saved nationally each year.

Besides wearing them in emergencies, safety is enhanced if lifejackets are worn during the below circumstances:

  • At the first sign of bad weather.
  • Between sunset and sunrise or during restricted visibility.
  • When operating in unfamiliar waters.
  • When operating with a following sea.
  • When boating alone (this is especially recommended).
  • At all times on children under 10 years.
  • If you are a poor swimmer.

Types of Lifejackets

Type 1

Level 100 and higher lifejackets provide a high level of buoyancy and are:

  • Approved for use in unprotected waters.
  • Fitted with head and neck support.
  • Designed to keep you in a face up floating position.
  • Manufactured using high-visibility colours.
  • Suitable for offshore and general boating in all waters.

Type 2

Level 50 lifejackets have a lower level of buoyancy than the Level 100 and higher lifejackets and are:

  • Not approved for general use in unprotected waters.
  • Not fitted with head and neck support.
  • Not designed to keep you in a face up floating position.
  • Manufactured using high-visibility colours.
  • Normally used for sailing, kayaking, canoeing, wind surfing and on personal water craft.

Type 3

Level 50S lifejackets have similar buoyancy to the Level 50 lifejackets and are:

  • Not approved for general use in unprotected waters.
  • Not fitted with head and neck support.
  • Not designed to keep you in a face up floating position.
  • Not manufactured using high-visibility colours.
  • Favoured by waterskiers, wakeboarders, kayakers and canoeists where comfort and style are important.
  • Available as a built in garment (eg water skiing wet suit).

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