SeaSafe guide to Life Jackets

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Crotch Straps
Without crotch straps a lifejacket will ride up, potentially over your face and in some instances over your head, leaving your mouth perilously close to even the smallest splashes and waves.
If you fall in from any height with no crotch strap, depending on the make and model of lifejacket, the inflated life jacket can completely come over your head with the force of impact. Wearing crotch strap would keep your lifejacket in place and in the correct, safe position.
Even in the height of summer, waters around the UK are quite cold and if you accidentally fall in your first reaction is to gasp with shock. This short-lived reaction means that you re uncontrollably and indiscriminately gulping for air, so the closer your mouth is to the water the re water you’ll gulp.
Floating in a lifejacket, your body will then naturally turn to face the wind and waves, so even small waves will be breaking over the jacket and into your face making it difficult to breathe clear air – which is where a spray-hood becomes vitally important.
Only a cupful of water in the lungs makes life difficult, and you need breathe in only a little over a litre to drown.
It is important to put the lifejacket on and check it fits. When wearing it adjust it so that you can just about get a fist between the webbing and your chest. In commercial situations where a life jacket is donned daily, it is recommended to issue each employee with a life jacket to ensure safe practice.
A Life Jacket inflates only when you need it to

·         A Life Jacket is a Safety device which inflates when you need it; either on demand (Manual) or on contact with water (Automatic)
·         A good quality, well-chosen life jacket should be comfortable and you should hardly notice you are wearing it. 
·         A Life Jacket keeps your head and neck supported and clear from water if you are incapacitated by injury or unconscious.
·         Life Jackets can also right your body if you fall overboard and land unconscious, face down in the water, providing a higher chance of successful rescue. 
·         SeaSafe manufacture our own unique coats which have life jackets built inside and hidden away, these work the same way as any other Manual or Automatic life jacket that would be worn outside your clothing.
·         Life Jackets are designed with a specific shape which when inflated, and in an offshore situation, enables you to float above and with the direction of the waves, while still keeping you buoyant in a safe position. If a spray hood is fitted, the Spray Hood protects your airways from sea spray. A man overboard casualty can not only drown from immersion in water but can drown from inhaling the sea spray and mist. If you are likely to be offshore, a Spray Hood is vital. 
·         A  Buoyancy Aid is contains buoyant padding which helps keep you above water inshore situation or when water-skiing or participating similar activities. Buoyancy Aid are often bulky and cannot be relied on in an emergency as they only aid floatation, if you are unconscious or injured, they do not keep your face out of water and you do need a certain amount of ability to tread water and keep yourself safe. Buoyancy Aids are great when you are close to the beach or shoreline and are on a jet ski or water-skiing or even riding an inflatable banana boat.
·         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.
·         All Life Jackets, irrespective of whether they are Manual or Automatic, have the ability to Orally inflate using the Oral Tube on the lung.
·         All Life Jackets, irrespective of whether they are Manual or Automatic have manual pull cords.
·         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.
·         Manual Life Jackets are particularly effective for confident sailors or mariners who are familiar with the product; they could be inshore or on the dock.  Manual jackets are also required when sailing small boats or  dinghy’s when you will be in contact with a lot of sea spray and sitting low down in the water.   
·         In our opinion, the last thing you need to worry about in a survival situation is manually activating your life jacket; however it really does depend on what situation you will be in. 
·         If you are in an enclosed boat you will need to wear a Manual lifejacket, however imagine getting knocked unconscious on the way into the water, which is not uncommon on a yacht, if you were unconscious a manual life jacket will do nothing for you.
·         An  Automatic Life Jacket can be inflated 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. 
·         One argument for the use of an Automatic Life Jacket is that you may get concussed or knocked unconscious as you fall overboard, therefore an Automatic Life Jacket would be the best choice. When thinking about the reality of actually falling overboard into the cold waters of the UK, you may realise that in fact most people would panic and struggle to find the pull cord on a manual lifejacket.
·         On both Manual and Automatic Life jackets you can also top up the air within the lung with the oral valve.
·         There is a  whistle fitted on the lung of every life jacket for attracting attention. 
·         There is also an option for a SOLAS LIGHT which is imperative for night sailors or if there is potential for you to be still waiting rescue during dim or dark hours of the day; if you are offshore or travelling distances, even around the UK Coastline, you could be awaiting rescue in dim and dark conditions. The  SOLAS light is also recommended to give you additional piece of mind. 
·         The inflatable "Bladder" or "Lung" is constructed from marine grade High-Viz Yellow or orange fabric which has three bars of SOLAS approved reflective tape on, this would reflect your personal SOLAS Light or search lights which will attract attention.
·         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. There is a long black grab strap which you pull and this brings the hood over your head and the inflated life jacket. There is also 3-bars of SOLAS approved reflective tape on the spray hood.
If you cannot swim an Automatic Life Jacket with Spray Hood is imperative. 
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