A Life Jacket inflates only when you need it to, as opposed to a buoyancy aid which is made of buoyant foam.
Life jackets can be foam, but they must have a certain level of buoyancy and be able to support the head of a casualty if unconcious in the water, as well as potentially turn a casualty over if face down in the water.
We recommend people wear a 150N (150 Newton) inflatable life jacket, correctly fitted each time it is donned and it must be serviced by a reputable service centre annually.
A Life Jacket consists of an outer cover and waist belt with crotch strap which contains a fluorescent inflatable lung which when required contains the ability to fill with gas, inflate and become buoyant. At other times it is worn deflated and in theory, close to the body.
One can have the option to have a Manual Life Jacket or an Automatic Life Jacket.
A Manual Life Jacket will only inflate on demand when the manual pull cord is pulled. This pulling motion detaches a clip on the mechanism which breaks and activates the gas bottle, releasing the CO2 gas which then inflates the lung.
An Automatic Life Jacket will inflate either Manually, as above, or Automatically on contact with water. An Automatic Life Jacket can be relied on in an man overboard situation if you are not an experienced seaman, it will also still work if you are knocked unconscious or disorientated by the fall and are unable to pull the pull cord. The Automatic Life Jacket contains a mechanism which when wet activates a sensor which fires and activates the gas bottle, releasing the CO2 which then inflates the lung.
On both types of jacket you can also top up the air within the lung with the oral valve. There is also a whistle fitted on the lung of every life jacket for attracting attention.
There is also an option for a SOLAS light which is particularly necessary for night sailors or offshore sailing. The SOLAS light is also recommended for extra piece of mind, depending on your requirements.
The bladder/lung is constructed from marine grade bright yellow or orange fabric and has three bars of SOLAS approved reflective tape to reflect your own SOLAS light or search and rescue lights which will reflect the tape and attract attention to your location.
There is also an option for a Spray Hood which is used for protection of the airways from sea spray and water whilst waiting for help in a search and rescue situation.