Life Jacket or Buoyancy Aid?

  • A Life Jacket is designed to enable you to float above and with the direction of the waves while keeping you buoyant.
  • A Buoyancy Aid contains buoyant padding which helps keep you above water in inshore situations or when water skiing or participating in similar activities. They are often bulky and can not be relied upon in an emergency as they only aid floatation, if you are unconscious or injured they do not keep your face out of the water and you do need a certain amount of ability to tread water and keep yourself safe.
  • A Buoyancy Aid is no replacement for a self inflating Life Jacket – A Buoyancy Aid does not keep your face above water if you are unconscious.

Life Jackets

  • A good quality, well chosen Life Jacket should be comfortable and you should hardly notice you are wearing it. It keeps your head and neck supported and clear of the water if you are incapacitated by injury or unconscious.
  • There is the option to have a Manual Life Jacket or an Automatic Life Jacket

A Manual Life Jacket will only inflate on demand when the maual cord is pulled, this detaches a clip on the mechanism which breaks and activates the gas cylinder, releasing the CO2 which then inflates the lung.

An Automatic Life Jacket can be inflated as above or automatically on contact with water( the mechanism when wet activates a sensor which fires and activates the CO2 gas cylinder) and therefore can be relied upon in a man overboard situation. It will also work if you are unconscious, injured or just disorientated.

  • All good quality Life Jackets, irrespective of whether they are Manual or Automatic have the ability to be orally inflated and can also be topped up with air using the oral valve.

Fitting, Stowage, Maintenance and Servicing.

  • Ensure you are familiar with the donning instructions of your particular type of Life Jacket
  • Accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of experience.
  • Ensure your Life Jacket fits correctly. Loose fitting Life Jackets may come off in an emergency or be a hinderance in the water. Make sure your Life Jacket is a snug fit and use the crotch strap if fitted. If there is a manual inflation toggle fitted ensure it is easy to reach
  • If possible, hang them up on a rack or hook, if damp allow to dry naturally
  • Inspect your Life Jacket regularly for obvious signs of damage
  • Get your Life Jackets serviced regularly by an approved retailer/company in accordance with any coding regulations or if that is not applicable then at least every 3 years. Make a log of this
  • Repairs should be performed by a manufacturer or approved company
  • It is recommended that the minimum specification for an adult size Life Jacket is a minimum of 150N, that the Life Jacket has a crotch strap and is self-inflating

Life Jackets should  ideally be stored in a warm dry place but away from direct heat or sunlight

Kill Cord

The KILL CORD  or engine safety cut-out switch is a device used to stop the engine in the event of the helmsperson being thrown off their seat.

It consists of a length of cord or plastic wire connected to a kill switch on the engine or dashboard of a boat.

One end has a plastic collar to hold the switch open, the other has a clip on it which can be connected directly to the helmsperson’s or made into a loop which can then be passed around their thigh. If the helmsperson is thrown from their seat by a sudden manoeuvre, the kill cord is pulled back from the dash, cutting the engine and preventing further injury from the propeller.

It is advised that the kill cord should NOT

  1. Be attached to your wrist so as to avoid it becoming entangled in the steering or throttle mechanism.
  2. Be attached to any clothing or lifejacket, which could become ripped or detached from the helmsperson.
  3. Be lengthened.

General Advice

  • Test your kill cord regularly.
  • Make sure your kill cord is in good condition.
  • Always attach the kill cord securly to the helmsperson, ideally prior to the engine being started, but certainly before the boat is put in gear.
  • STOP the engine before transferring the kill cord to another helmsperson.