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Life jackets & Swim vests
Whether in open water or a dedicated facility such as a swimming pool, safety is of paramount importance. This is particularly the case for many of these establishments which are open to the public and are therefore obliged to adhere to various health and safety regulations.
In some instances, such as in public swimming pools, life jackets and swim vests are a precautionary measure. However, in open water facilities such as white-water activity centres, ponds, and lakes, safety equipment is not optional. This is the same at sea for all those wanting to undertake activities such as paddle boarding, rafting, and banana boat riding. The more open and unsupervised the water, the greater the risk to the individual. The Royal Yachting Association recommends all to proceed with wearing a lifejacket in open water even if you are not certain that it is necessary.
So, what are the differences? Life jackets are recommended in circumstances where an individual may be wholly dependent on its buoyancy to keep afloat and possibly even alive in open water. Jackets of this standard are supplied at ‘Level 150’, meaning they are suitable for general offshore and rough weather use. Alternatively, ‘Level 275’ is suitable for individuals carrying significant weight and are therefore requiring additional buoyancy.
All accredited lifejackets are able to effectively manoeuvre an unconscious person into a safe and upright position through their carefully considered design, forcing both the mouth and nose above water to maintain breathing. By nature, closed-cell foam is naturally buoyant and is therefore the material of choice for all approved industry standard life jackets, regardless of ‘Level’. Made from lightweight closed-cell polyethylene foam, these jackets are inherently buoyant and are fail-safe in all types and temperatures of water.
You may have also encountered what is known as a ‘Level 50’ jacket, more commonly known as a swim vest. Swim vests are suitable for both adults and children who are usually supervised in the water and have a means of rescue to hand. They require active participation from the individual and assist by helping the person to maintain a natural position in the water when learning to swim. These jackets are also made of high-quality closed cell polyethylene foam cut to size and shape, usually very thin – generally between 2mm to 5mm.
‘Level 50’ jackets or swim vests as we know them are suitable for those participating in light water sports such as windsurfing, as well as canoeing and water-skiing on still water such as in a pond. As they are light, they are suitable for those able to swim fair distances and offer the user a degree of mobility when taking part in activities.
eFoam provides up to date industry advice and foam product recommendations for those wanting to ensure their safety in the water. Should you wish to speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable advisers about your needs, please contact us.