Bouyancy Aids & Life Jackets: Similar But Not The Same

Consider climate change for a moment…

Our planet’s surface is covered by 71% of water. It would seem only natural that coastal cities and communities around the world would be more aware and in-tune with the unpredictability of our world’s oceans. Climate change has made things even more challenging and, eventhough some world leaders down-play the seriousness of climate change and global warming, even claiming that it does not exist, that it is a fabrication of the media to distract from other more pressing matters like the building of walls or the continuation of coal mine exploitation all over the world, this “lie”, this so called “distraction”, is well uppon us; just ask any local living in island nations like Mauritius, The Seychelles or Fiji. I am quite sure they would be the first to raise their hand aknowledging that climate change is finally, undeniably, here.

In fact, acccording to studies done by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (IGSS), May 2017 has been the second warmest May in the last 137 years!

Now consider heat and water…

Heat is responsible for creating tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons. The warmer the water, the more intense the storm.

A natural occurrence…be prepared!

I live in a region where hurricanes are part of a natural, if often unwelcome, cycle. Unfortunately, climate change and global warming have had an adverse effect, creating bigger, more intense storms, also impacting on how frequently we have to deal with these weather phenomena. Getting hit by a hurricane (atlantic) or a typhoon (pacific) is something no one should have to go through. However, if faced with a rapid increase in water levels, PFDs (personal floating devices) such as throwable bouyancy aids (lifeguard rescue tubes, rescue line bags and life rings) can be extremely useful to keep you afloat while help arrives. They are designed to keep someone afloat, allowing the wearer full movement while being exposed to open water conditions.



However, if unconcious, the wearer’s head  could be face down in the water. This why life jackets, above any other PFD or bouyancy aid, are the preferred item for boat skippers around the world. Another interesting fact about bouyancy is that adults need just an extra 7 to 12  pounds of bouyancy to stay affloat. Also, life jacket bouyancy is divided into levels of floatability:

Level 50:

Intended for competent swimmers and who are not near shore or have help or rescue close at hand.

Level 100:

Intended for those who have to wait for rescue but in sheltered water. Not to be used in rough water conditions.

Level 150:

For general off shore and rough water use  where high standard of performance is required. Turns unconcious person into safe position without needing user to involve any further action to maintain position.

Level 275:

Intended for off shore use and by people carrying additional weight; also of value for those wearing clothing which traps air and which may adversely affect self-righting capacity of the life vest. This jacket is designed to ensure the user  is floating in the correct position with their mouth and nose clear of the surface of the water.

Life jackets are meant to be worn while sailing, using PWC (personal water craft a.k.a. waverunners), windsurfers, canoes, water skiing and any other similar extreme water sport activity. Also on open boats, small powered boats, or going on ashore on boat tender, as well as in yachts and motor cruisers. PFDs are divided into five types:

Whatever your favorite open water activity, PFDs are an essential part of any responsible waterman’s inventory. New materials and designs have made them much more comfortable to wear, without sacrificing their ultimate goal which is to save lives.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful. Please leave a comment below with any thoughts. I will be happy to read them and repply shortly. Thanks again!

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