Lifejackets: Construction requirements and types

Lifejackets are the most known appliance for saving our life. Since they were invented in 1854, this device for keeping us afloat at sea has changed very much.

The Code that regulates how Lifejackets must be constructed is the Life Saving Appliances Code (best known as LSA Code). On this Code we will find all the questions we seek to solve in this post:

  • Construction requirements for lifejackets.
  • Types of lifejackets.

Construction requirements for lifejackets

The LSA Code, on its chapter II “Personal life-saving appliances”, section 2.2 “Lifejackets”, includes all the requirement for a standard lifejacket.

Regarding the construction requirements, we would find that, after one demonstration, everybody must be capable of putting this equipment on within a period of 1 min without assistance but, what is more interesting is that without any demonstration nor instruction, at least the 75% of the people who are not familiarized with this equipment, will be capable of putting it on in the same period of time.

Besides, even though there is only one way of fitting the lifejacket correctly, somebody who put it on inside-out won’t suffer any injures.

Logically it will be comfortable to wear and, in case it is necessary to jump into the water, you will be capable of doing it safely (this is, holding on to the lifejacket) from a height of at least 4.5 m.

Also, in case our lifejacket sets in fire or we spend many time at sea using it, there’s nothing to worry about because the requirements are, as follows:

  • A lifejacket shall not sustain burning or melting after being totally enveloped in a fire for a period of 2 s (2.2.1.1).
  • An adult lifejacket shall allow the person wearing it to swim a short distance and to board a survival craft (2.2.1.7).
  • A lifejacket shall have buoyance which is not reduced by more than 5% after 24hours submersion in fresh water (2.2.1.11).

Types of lifejackets

Lifejacket marking Infant Child Adult
Weight (kg) Less than 15 15 or more but less than 43 43 or more
Height (cm) Less than 100 100 or more but less than 155 155 or more

Exist a type of Lifejacket known as XXL Lifejacket, but the Code is not contemplated it directly. The Code says:

“If an adult lifejacket is not designed to fit persons weighing up to 140 Kg and with chest girth of up to 1750 mm, suitable accessories shall be available to allow it to be secured to such persons” (2.2.1.3).

If the Lifejacket doesn’t say the opposite, we can assume that it is designed to fill the prescription on 2.2.1.3.

Will all this construction requirements, it is logical to ask ourselves “ok but, what is capable of doing a Lifejacket?”

Alvaro Jimenez
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Alvaro Jimenez

Merchant marine Officer, author of: www.SafetyCultureAtSea.com
When you will read this, I will be sailing probably.
Alvaro Jimenez
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