Lifejackets and On Board Safety explained with Crewsaver’s Nigel Parkes

Lifejackets and On Board Safety explained with Crewsaver’s Nigel Parkes

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Marine Safety Q&A with Crewsaver - 05

Crewsaver’s lifejackets are recognised the world over. Working with lifeboat crews and round-the-world racers they are able to refine every aspect of a lifejacket’s design and construction. Crewsaver’s design manager, Nigel Parkes, answers your most common questions about on board safety.

Q What checks should I perform before donning my lifejacket?

A Check the stitching on your lifejacket straps is not worn and check for any signs of damage to the outer cover. Check that the firing mechanism is in perfect working order by looking for signs of corrosion. If your lifejacket has a pro-sensor firing head you will be able to check the status of your lifejacket without having to unpack and repack.

Q What is a Newton and how many Newtons should my lifejacket be?

A A Newton is a metric measurement of force. To support a 1kg weight you need a force of 9.8 Newtons. In lifejackets, buoyancy is measured in Newtons. 1 Newton is equal to 0.1Kgf or 0.225lbf. A 150N adult lifejacket will therefore support someone with an in-water weight of 15.3kg or 33.7lbs.

Q What type of lifejacket would be best for me and my family?

A When selecting a lifejacket you need to consider worst-case scenarios and the type of lifejacket everyone should be wearing for their ultimate safety overboard in that environment.

  • 100N Foam – Great for sheltered and coastal waters, a foam lifejacket has inherent buoyancy provided by integral foam, giving instant reassurance and security.
  • 150N-165N inflatable lifejackets – Ideal for everyday use and for cruising, coastal and offshore sailing, in clear weather conditions.
  • 190N inflatable lifejackets – With more support than the 150N-165N lifejackets, these are suitable for inshore, coastal and offshore use.
  • 275N inflatable lifejackets – Suitable for offshore or extremely heavy weather, these category lifejackets will help ensure you turn over onto your back even if you are wearing multiple layers of clothing, which can trap air.
  • 290N inflatable lifejackets – These lifejackets are designed for offshore and ocean sailing. Their high buoyancy offers maximum protection particularly in severe weather when wearing heavy waterproof or foul weather clothing.

Marine Safety Q&A with Crewsaver - 01

Q How will I know if my lifejacket fits correctly?

A You should be able to adjust all the straps on your lifejacket to make it comfortably tight. Your lifejacket should not ride up as an ill-fitted or loose lifejacket will not provide the level of performance required when it’s inflated.

Q How often should I have my lifejacket serviced?

A You should perform a service on your lifejacket every year following the instructions in your owner’s manual. Crewsaver also advises sending its lifejackets to a Crewsaver-approved service station every year for a full inspection by the professionals.

Marine Safety Q&A with Crewsaver - 02

Q What is the difference between the different firing mechanisms for lifejackets?

A Hammar and Standard Automatic firing mechanisms for lifejackets are both triggered by water. A Standard Automatic head is activated by the presence of water. Inflation automatically occurs when the capsule is immersed. It is splash resistant as the water needs to travel through the capsule in order to activate it. A Hammar head mechanism is activated by water pressure. The mechanism is protected by a valve, which only allows water to enter after it has reached a depth of 10cm (4 inches). This gives good protection from random activation caused by exposure to heavy weather. A Manual head will only inflate by pulling on the manual pull cord.

Marine Safety Q&A with Crewsaver - 04

Q What is the difference between a buoyancy aid and a lifejacket?

A If worn correctly a lifejacket should provide enough buoyancy around the neck to allow you to automatically turn face up should you fall into the water, providing that it has a suitable buoyancy rating for the clothing you are wearing. A buoyancy aid should provide enough buoyancy to keep you afloat, and should only be worn by swimmers. They are intended for use in sheltered waters where help is at hand.

Q What personal on board safety accessories should I carry with me?

A A safety knife is essential should you need to cut through any ropes in an emergency. Next, you should always have a lifejacket light to keep you visible in the worst scenarios. And finally a PLB (Personal Location Beacon) which can be used to alert search and rescue services to your location in an emergency.

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