BOATING SAFETY: BASIC THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT LIFE JACKETS
Using life jackets are requirements as a standard boating safety procedure that can save your life. Aside from wearing them on board, it’s important to know the basics about life jackets. Your knowledge helps you choose the right one from a wide array of choices.
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE (PFD)
Personal Flotation Device (PFD) refers to a life jacket that provides buoyancy to help you increase water survival in case an emergency happens. There are three types of recreational PFDs in Australia which is according to the style of the boat.
The PFD Type 1 is a life jacket that maintains you in a very safe floating position with sufficient support from head to body. The design usually features a floatation collar that keeps your head above the water in case you use it during an emergency. It also has visible colours for higher recognition and retro-reflective patches. PFD Type 1 life jackets are generally for offshore sailing, smooth, partially calm and open waters.
The PFD Type 2 is a buoyancy vest that gives you less buoyancy, but still enough to support a body. It also has visible colours but has no collar that’ll keep your head face up. This type is ideal for water skiing, sailing boats and personal boating trip if you’re going towards the smooth and partially smooth water.
The PFD Type 3 is a buoyancy aid ideal for calm water and are available in a wide variety of colours.
OTHER TYPES OF LIFE JACKETS
Commercial boats usually use Coastal and SOLAS life jackets. Those are life jackets to help you float in water for a longer period of time. Aside from the reflective tape, they also have a whistle for attracting attention.
Inflatable life jackets are usually for recreational boat and must have an expiry date. Inflatable life jackets are designed to inflate either when landing in water when a tag is pulled, and if all else fails, they can be inflated by blowing air from your mouth.
Newton is the measurement of life jacket buoyancy. Ten newtons is equal to one kilogram of floatation. There’s a different range of buoyancies Australian Standard uses to classify life jackets.
A life jacket with the buoyancy of 50N PFD is for swimming purposes in sheltered water given that there are lifeguards or help nearby. The 100N PFD is for sheltered and calm water. A 150N PFD is applicable for coastal, offshore and rough water while 275N PFD is for offshore use in extreme conditions.
GETTING PFD WITH A GOOD FIT
PFDs have a wide range of sizes, and it’s important to make sure that the PFD fits you well. It must hold you right in a ‘face up’ position in the water.
PFDs need regular maintenance to make sure that they are still in the proper condition. Always check the stitches, zippers, and strap buckles. Inflatable life jackets need to be serviced regularly to extend the expiry date.
When boating, you have to think of the worst possible outcomes that can happen. It’s always good to be prepared and put everyone’s safety on top of the list.
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