How does a lifejacket work?

How does a lifejacket work?

Foam lifejackets

A foam lifejacket, such as our 100N lifejacket, is made of buoyant foam which keeps the wearer afloat in the water. The foam is specifically placed to turn the wearer on their back if in the water face down, and the jacket contains foam around the neck in a supportive collar to keep the head above water.

You can read more about our 100N lifejackets here

Gas lifejackets

Gas lifejackets consist of an outer cover with a florescent inflatable lung inside which fills with air from a small gas canister when the user falls into the water to make it buoyant.

Inflating an automatic lifejackets

Lifejackets will have one of three types of firing mechanism to release CO2 and inflate the jacket:

  • A bobbin which chemically reacts with water and dissolves which releases a spring to puncture the CO2 canister (made by Halkey Roberts). This is designed so any rain water or sea spray running jacket won't activate it, but water flowing up into the mechanism will.
  • Paper which dissolves in water releasing the CO2 (made by UML). This is designed so any rain water or sea spray running jacket won't activate it, but water flowing up into the mechanism will.
  • A hydrostatic valve which is pressure sensitive and fires when it is submerged in 10cm of water (made by HammarⓇ). This mechanism is designed for more extreme conditions including offshore sailing. The benefit being that the jacket cannot accidentally inflate from rain water or sea spray.


All automatic lifejackets will also have a manual chord for inflation. They will also have an oral valve for the wearer to blow into and top up the jacket if needed.

View our gas lifejackets here

Inflating a manual lifejackets

Manual lifejackets have a chord which is attached to the mechanism, by pulling the cord the firing pin punctures the CO2 canister which in turn inflates the jacket. They will also have an oral valve for the wearer to blow into and top up the jacket if needed.

When to use a automatic or manual lifejacket

An automatic lifejacket can be relied upon in situations where you might be knocked unconscious and are unable to pull the manual pull chord.

A manual lifejacket should be used in situations where the chance of being knocked unconscious is very limited and where you may be trapped inside or underneath an upturned boat. It is important to remember that cold water shock can make the wearer disorientated and therefore forget to pull the chord even if conscious.

Additional features of lifejackets

Light
This is usually an option and is necessary for those on the water at night

Whistle
All lifejackets have a whistle attached which can be used to attract attention

Reflective tape on bladder
This helps the wearer to be spotted if in the water.

Waist belt
To keep the life jacket tight to the users body. This is particularly important if inflated so that the jacket doesn't fall off.

Crotch straps
To keep the jacket tight underneath the users body so if inflated it doesn't rise above the wearers head.

Spray hood
Usually found on offshore jackets and protects the wearer's airways from spray and water whilst waiting for help.

Harness
This is to allow a lifeline to be attached from the lifejacket and it's wearer to the boat to reduce the chances of falling overboard.

 

About Tornado Lifejackets
Tornado Lifejackets are passionate about safety on the water and we want you to enjoy your activities with peace of mind. We therefore sell quality jackets that are affordable and accessible for adults and children. Our lifejackets are all from Europe's largest manufacturers complying to the highest standards for safety include ISO accreditation and CE approval. Our knowledgable team of experts are always on hand to answer any water safety questions you may have.