Life Jackets And Vests: What They Are And Why They Are Important
The term life jackets and vests are popularly used in water related recreational activities. They are featured in the world of swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding, boating, canoeing, sailing, rafting, fishing, scuba diving, water expeditions and more. A life jacket (or vest) is basically a personal floating device (PFD) worn by a person venturing into the water. It is made from special material such as foam or inflatable fabric which increases buoyancy. This enables a person to float on the surface of the water in case he falls inside. The jacket may feature a zipper, straps, reflective strips, pockets and much more.
Over time, different types have been developed. The suitability of each, will depend on a number of factors. These include weight, age, nature of activity, safety rating, personal preference and more. The following are the main types found in the market:
1) Auto-inflatable: these are compact and flat jackets that automatically inflate when immersed in water. They are also quite light and comfortable.
2) Manual-inflatable: Similar to auto inflatable but are inflated manually by yanking a handle.
3) Vest-type: These are the most common. They are usually rectangular in shape and have a small opening for inserting the head. They are usually bulky and not as comfortable as the inflatable type.
4) Children life jackets: specifically meant for kids and come with child-friendly features.
5) Offshore vests: they offer the most floatation and are suited for offshore use. They may be used in cruising, offshore boating as well as open waters.
6) Dog jackets: designed for use with dogs
Life Jacket Ratings
Life jackets, vests or any floatation device are also rated according to the market standards. For instance, the USCG (United States Coast Guards) rates the devices as follows:
· Type I: This is the most bulky and also provides the most buoyancy. It is best suited for offshore, rough or open waters.
· Type II: It specs are slightly lower than those of Type I. It is suitable for much calmer inland waters or near the shore. An example of the vest is the orange vest.
· Type III: These include the one used in waterskiing. It is meant for calm waters near the shoreline.
· Type IV: This is usually tossed to a person inside water. The victim grasps on it and awaits rescue.
· Type V: This is used for special uses which are usually outlined on the label. Examples include sailboard vests, work vests, kayaking as well as whitewater rafting vests.
Benefits of Wearing One
Life jackets and vests offer a number of benefits to the user. The type of benefit will vary according to the brand reputation, intended use and type of material. In general, the pfd’s provide the following benefits:
· Rescue: this is the main objective of the vests and jackets. The devices make it easier to rescue a person in danger of drowning.
· Swimming aids: The gear helps in teaching a person especially young children how to swim.
· Protection: The vests and jackets protect a person against water torrents, high wind speeds, rain and other elements of weather.
· Comfort: A wearer will feel more comfortable hence enjoying the experience.
Popular Brands and What to Look For When Buying One
There quite a number of jackets and vests in the market. In order to get the right device, it is necessary to consider the size, comfort, buoyancy, brand reputation, user-friendliness, safety rating and also reading reviews on the product. Some of the popular brands in the market are as follows:
1) Life Jackets for Adults:
MW (Type III) - $ 18.99- 20.99
Stearns “Firstmate” (Type III) - $ 27.00
Universal (Type II) - $ 10.99
Winningedge -$ 22.99
Life Vest for men includes Hyperlite, O’Neill and Body Glove. Slippery life vests are suitable for women while Ezy dog is ideal for dogs. Other top brands include Coleman, Sospenders and Mustang. The price ranges from $15 to $100.
Vests and jackets meant for use in water have been around for many decades. However, some people opt to venture into the water without wearing one. Sorry to say, but statistics indicate that many water incidences or fatalities could actually have been avoided if the victim was wearing a personal floatation device. This is probably why some countries such as the United States have made it mandatory to wear one if intending to go in water. No matter how experienced a person is, water is always risky. Therefore, to have ultimate fun yet in a safe manner, it is ideal to wear them.
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