For many years boaters were stuck with little choice when it came to buying a life jacket. The old ‘foam block’ type of jacket could be found on almost all boats across the country, usually stowed ‘out of the way’ where they wouldn’t impede on fishing and boating activities.
This stowage solution often worked quite well, until it came time to use them, where jackets were often difficult to get to in an emergency situation.
We’re pleased to report however, that the days of stowing life jackets under the seats of your dinghy or having them take up valuable space (that is much better utilised for more fishing tackle) are over!
Enter the era of small, light-weight and comfortable self-inflating life jackets that are changing the way we think about boating safety. No longer are life jackets being stowed; they are being worn, and providing the safest possible solution should you find yourself in trouble on the water.
As with any new product, there are many questions people ask to ensure it will meet their needs. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to debunk some of the common myths and misconceptions about self-inflating life jackets that will empower you in your decision to be safer on the water.
Myth 1 – Life Jackets are uncomfortable to wear!
The development of self-inflating jackets has resulted in a small, light-weight and comfortable design which can be worn all day without impeding any movement or activity undertaken while on your boat.
Take the Crewfit 165N for example, which sits high on your neck and not on your shoulders (like other designs) and extends only just past your rib cage. The back of the jackets are small and thin, ensuring you don’t get too hot and sweaty when in warmer weather. Each side of the jacket is only 5cm across, giving your chest, shoulders and arms plenty of room to pull a cray pot, wind in a fish or pull an anchor rope.
Within minutes of putting this jacket on, you will forget you are wearing it at all.
Myth 2 – The new generation life jackets look too technical!
It’s understandable that people are unsure about something new in the marketplace, especially when the product is designed to save lives. The truth is that new generation self-inflating jackets are simple and user friendly and there are only a few key features to know about when deciding to purchase one:
- All self-inflating life jackets carry a small canister of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) which is released into a bladder upon activation. This inflated bladder provides the buoyancy as the foam once did in the ‘block’ type jackets. Air can be added or removed manually through a mouthpiece.
- The Crewfit 165N comes with a choice of two methods of activation, either manually activated, or water activated:
– Manually activated jackets activate when the user pulls on a toggle which pierces the CO2 canister and inflates the bladder.
– Water activated models contain a moisture sensor which, when immersed in water, automatically pierce the canister without the user doing anything. This method of activation comes into its own of the user is incapacitated. These models also come with a manual override toggle.
Myth 3 – If the new style jackets are set off, you can’t re-use them!
New generation life jackets have come a long way since entering the market a few years ago. The Crewfit 165N now have the ability to be re-used, re-gassed and re-packed – all from the comfort of your own living room. If your jacket does go off in an emergency, it’s as simple as replacing the CO2 canister, refolding the jacket and zipping the jacket back up. There are plenty of instructions that come with your jacket and new canister package, and the recharge kit will only set you back about $20.
Myth 4 – I need to get my jackets serviced often by the manufacturer
Jackets should be inspected and serviced at least once a year, but as with re-arming your jacket, inspection and servicing can be done at home. The Department of Transport provides some good advice around inspecting and servicing your jacket here: www.transport.wa.gov.au/mediaFiles/marine/MAC_B_Safety_Equipment_Lifejackets.pdf
Myth 5 – I still need the ‘foam block’ jackets on board to comply with regulations
FALSE! The Crewfit 165N exceeds the minimum standards in place for life jackets, meaning that you will be complying fully with the regulations should they be the only jacket you have on board.
Myth 6 – I’m perfectly safe because I have enough ‘foam block’ jackets on boardWhilst it’s true that ‘foam block’ jackets provide enough buoyancy to meet the minimum standards for life jackets on board a vessel in WA, it’s also true that they are not the ‘safest’ option. Wearing a self-inflating jacket whilst boating is significantly safer than attempting to access a stowed jacket in an emergency situation.
People make decisions around safety when purchasing many products throughout their lives. You might purchase steel capped boots over standard boots because they provide better protection, or you might purchase a car with a 5 star safety rating over one with a 3 star rating. Decisions like these are made with our health and wellbeing in mind and life jackets are no different. The safest option is to buy a self-inflating jacket and wear it!
Boating accidents can and do happen. You never know when something may go wrong or if help will be around, but when your lifeline is strapped to your chest the whole time you give yourself the best possible chance of coming out unscathed.
Make the choice, switch to a New Generation Life Jacket and return home safe.
Get yours at fishandsurvive.com.au