Personal floatation devices are one of the most important pieces of boating safety equipment—and what’s more, their use is mandated by law. When purchasing lifejackets you should take into account your personal needs, the type of boating you will be doing, and the age, experience level, and physical condition of the people you will be boating with. Here is a brief guide on choosing the right life jacket for you.
- Traditional lifejackets feature a simple and functional design—making them suitable for all types of users (children, for example.)
- Traditional lifejackets are less hassle, as they do not require frequent inspection and maintenance like inflatables
- Traditional lifejackets are better suited for activities that require frequent water entry such as skiing or whitewater rafting
- Traditional lifejackets are bulkier and less comfortable. Not only can this be an inconvenience, it often leads users to delay donning the lifejacket until the moment in which it is needed—a practice which can be dangerous. (In fact, in 84 percent of boating related drowning deaths the victim was not using a life preserver.)
- Traditional lifejackets limit one’s range of motion, making them impractical for certain activities.
- Inflatable lifejackets are comfortable, lightweight, and offers a wide range of motion
- Inflatable lifejackets are easier to use continuously, leading to better outcomes in sudden emergency situations
- Inflatable lifejackets offer higher in-water visibility, and tend to flip users into a face-up position faster than traditional lifejackets.
- “Add-Ons” such as inflatable leg and waist pieces are also available. These pieces can increase protection during emergency situations.
- Inflatable lifejackets require frequent inspection and maintenance.
- Inflatable lifejackets are not suitable for children under 16
- Inflatable lifejackets are not advisable for activities that require frequent water entry.