Life Jacket Checks


Iain Cooke of Ocean Safety checked the jackets

There was a Lifejacket Clinic at the Dart Lifeboat Station on Coronation Park on Saturday 16 April 2011. Experts from Ocean Safety carried out the free checks. One hundred and twenty five jackets were brought for inspection and twenty seven were found that would not have inflated as intended in an emergency. John Yunnie, Dart RNLI Sea Safety Officer, was on hand to answer queries and to arrange for Sea Checks.
This was the third clinic that we have held and the next will be on Saturday 6 April 2013 starting at 10am.


You must have enough lifejackets on board. This means having lifejackets to suit all shapes and sizes including children and pets.
It is the skipper’s responsibility to show the crew where lifejackets are stowed, how to don and secure them and when and how to operate them.
The RNLI recommends that when you use your tender and your boat everyone wears a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. Remember, it is important to use the crotch straps.
Lifejacket buoyancy is measured in Newtons (N). Ten Newtons equal 1kg of flotation. There are four European standards for lifejackets. All lifejackets must carry the CE mark.
Newton ratings are relative to the weight of the intended user. Make sure the lifejacket you choose is the correct size for you and that it has the right Newton rating for your weight. A 150N lifejacket designed for a child or young adult will not sufficiently float an adult. If you are buying for an adult you must get a 150N lifejacket designed for an adult's weight.

These are the four European standards for lifejackets and buoyancy aids:
Buoyancy aid 50 Newtons
Buoyancy aids with 50N should only be used by swimmers in sheltered waters when help is close at hand. They are not guaranteed to turn a person from a face-down position in the water.If your sport involves being in the water a lot (such as windsurfing, dinghy sailing or water skiing) you will probably use a buoyancy aid. Remember, buoyancy aids just give you a little bit of extra flotation. They will not float you face-up if you are unconscious.
Lifejacket 100 Newtons
The 100N lifejacket is for those who may have to wait for rescue but are likely to be in sheltered, calm water. It may not have sufficient buoyancy to protect someone who is unable to help himself or herself and may not roll an unconscious person on to his or her back, particularly someone in heavy clothing.
Lifejacket 150 Newtons
The 150N lifejacket is for general use on coastal and inshore waters when sailing and fishing. It is intended for general offshore and rough-weather use when a high standard of performance is required. It should turn an unconscious person onto his or her back and requires no subsequent action by the wearer to keep his or her face out of the water. Its performance may be affected if the user is wearing heavy and/or waterproof clothing.
Lifejacket 275 Newtons
The 275N lifejacket is recommended for offshore cruising, fishing and commercial users. It is intended primarily for extreme conditions and for those wearing heavy protective clothing that may adversely affect the self-righting capacity of other lifejackets. It is designed to ensure that the wearer is floating in the correct position with his or her mouth and nose clear of the surface of the water.

Types of inflation
There are three inflation methods for air-only lifejackets. It is important to know which method your lifejacket uses and how it works.
Manually inflated lifejackets are operated by pulling a string, which pushes a firing pin into the CO2 canister, inflating the lifejacket. Automatic and hydrostatic lifejackets both have a manual pull string as back up.
Automatically inflated lifejackets rely on a small pellet or bobbin, which holds back a powerful spring. When the pellet makes contact with water it dissolves very rapidly, releasing the spring, which pushes a firing pin into the gas canister.
Hydrostatic (Hammer)
Hydrostatic or Hammer action lifejackets work the same way, but the pellet is protected by a case that only lets water in once it is a few centimetres below the surface. It won’t fire until fully submerged.

Other features
Crotch straps
Whether you have one or two crotch straps, fitting and wearing them will stop the lifejacket slipping over your head.
Spray hood
A spray hood will keep wind-blown spray away from your airways, making it easier to breathe and reducing the risk of drowning. It will also act as a high-visibility detection aid and stop heat escaping from your head. Good spray hoods have air vents at the sides.
A flashing light or strobe on your lifejacket makes you much easier to find at night or in poor visibility and can be easily attached.
A waterproof flare is another good addition to increase your chances of being found. There are flares on the market that have two ends, enabling them to produce both a daytime orange smoke and a red night flare. They are waterproof up to 30m. A flare pouch can be added to your lifejacket.
To avoid a man over board situation it is good practice to wear a harness and clip yourself to a strong point on your craft. Some lifejackets have built in harnesses.
Reflective tape
This tape is standard on all lifejackets and is highly visible when lit up by a searchlight.

Choosing a child’s lifejacket
All children’s lifejackets state a maximum weight and chest size that must not be exceeded. It is equally important not to buy a lifejacket that is too large, as this may result in the child slipping out of it or the lifejacket floating high in the water leaving the child’s mouth and nose submerged.
A good way to tell if a lifejacket is the right size is to fit and adjust it and then lift it from the top. It should not be possible to lift the lifejacket more than 2.5cm from the child’s shoulders.


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