What is a lifejacket?

Buoyancy Aids, Foam Lifejackets, Gas Lifejackets, Life Jackets -

What is a lifejacket?

Lifejackets are sleeveless jackets which are generally filled with air to keep the user afloat if they fall into water. They are primarily designed to keep the wearer face up and with their head above the water without the need for them to be conscious. Lifejackets should also maintain the wearer in this position without any subsequent actions. This is unlike buoyancy aids which require the wearer to remain conscious. Lifejackets can be made of foam which is normally used for entry level models, but the definition remains the same. All other types use Co2 gas to inflate the jacket on contact with water.

What is a lifejacket

Gas lifejackets

Gas jackets are inflated automatically when they are submerged in water and / or manually by pulling on a cord. After inflation has occurred they needs to be 'rearmed' using a rearming kit which consists of a small co2 canister and a cartridge with the trigger mechanism. For this reason they are generally not used for activities such as paddleboarding, wakeboarding, waterskiing, jet skiing or dinghy sailing where where there is a high chance of continual submergence in the water. However, lifejackets are suitable for a RIB or speedboat, yacht tenders, sailing yachts, motor yachts and any activities where you do not anticipate being in the water such as angling.

Manual inflation

Manual inflation will give the wearer the decision on whether the jacket needs to be inflated or not. This can be useful in situations, such as angling, where you might accidentally fall into the water. The downside is that if you are unconscious, panic, or lose mobility then you may not be able to pull the chord.

Automatic inflation

Automatic inflation will deploy itself when the wearer falls into the water meaning that if you are unconscious the lifejacket could save your life. 

Read how a lifejacket works here


Gas Lifejacket on yachts woman

Above: Gas Lifejacket on a yachtswoman

Choosing the right type of lifejacket

It is very important that the right type of jacket is bought as lifejackets are designed for specific purposes and weights (50N, 100N, 150N)

Considerations for the activity you are participating in should include whether you require:

  • An automatic or manual inflation mechanism
  • A spray hood to protect your face from water
  • A personal locator beacon so that you can be found in the water
  • A D ring to allow a harness to be attached which connects the wearer to the boat to avoid falling overboard

Read more about choosing the right jacket here


If you have any further questions or need any help please contact us here


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.

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