From 1 January 2025 lifejackets that meet older Australian Standards AS 1512, AS 1499 and AS 2260 will no longer be acceptable in South Australia.
Lifejackets, sometimes called Personal flotation devices (PFDs), are an essential item of marine safety equipment.
The lifejacket you need and when you must wear it depends on your vessel, age, location, and conditions. If you’re not sure, answer some quick questions to know before you go.
Lifejacket level 100 or higher
A level 100 or higher has sufficient flotation to support the body and head. The flotation collar keeps your head above water. Do not use it as a cushion. Not permitted for water skiing, aquaplaning, and similar activities. It must comply with one or more of the following standards:
- Australian Standards AS 4758.1: Personal flotation devices classified as providing level 100 or level 150 buoyancy (or more). Note: From 1 January 2025 lifejackets that meet Australian Standard AS 1512‑1996, will no longer be acceptable.
- Appendix R of section 10 of the Uniform Shipping Laws Code
- With a PFD intended for use by adults Canadian General Standards Board CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88; with a PFD intended for use by children CAN/CGSB-65.15-M88
- European Standard EN399-1993 Lifejackets-275N, EN396-1993 Lifejackets-150N, or EN395-1993 Lifejackets-100N
- International Organization for Standardization ISO 12402-2, ISO 12402-3, or ISO 12402-4
- Underwriters Laboratories Standards UL1180 Fully inflatable recreational personal flotation devices
- New Zealand Standard NZ5823:2001 Type 401
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority Marine Orders Part 25 related to the type of lifejackets required to be carried on Australian registered ships.
Lifejacket level 50
A level 50 has less flotation than a level 100, with flotation panels front and back only. Is less restrictive to wear than level 100 or higher, but will not keep your head above water if you are unconscious. A level 50 is suitable for use for sports such as water skiing, sailboarding, kiteboarding and sailing dinghies. It must comply with one or more of the following standards:
- Australian Standard AS 4758.1: Personal flotation devices classified as providing level 50 buoyancy. Note: From 1 January 2025 lifejackets that meet Australian Standard AS 1499-1996, will no longer be acceptable.
- European Standard EN393-1993 Lifejackets-50N
- International Organization for Standardization ISO 12402-5.
Lifejacket level 50S
Similar to level 50, a level 50S lifejacket doesn't meet the Australian Standards Association colour standards. These are designed for high-speed water sports such as water skiing, aqua-planing, operating PWC, and sailboarding. It must comply with one or more of the following standards:
- Australian Standard AS 4758.1: Personal flotation devices in relation to a PFD classified as providing level 50 special purpose (50S) buoyancy. Note: From 1 January 2025 lifejackets that meet Australian Standard AS 2260-1996, will no longer be acceptable.
SOLAS (safety of life at sea) lifejacket
A very bulky lifejacket, designed to keep the body afloat for long periods. Has a light and whistle attached to attract attention. Carried by commercial vessels and recommended for use on larger vessels operating far offshore.
This multi-fit lifejacket has more flotation than a lifejacket level 100 or above. It has a whistle attached for attracting attention. It is recommended for use on larger vessels operating far offshore.
Wearing lifejackets on motor boats that are 4.8 metres or less in length
- Everyone on board must wear a lifejacket at all times when the vessel is underway or at anchor.
- The lifejacket worn must be in line with lifejacket wear requirements.
- The lifejacket worn must be suitable for your activity.
Information about lifejacket requirements can be found in the South Australian Boating Safety Handbook.
Wearing lifejackets on boats 4.8 metres to 12 metres in length (with or without an engine)
When in an open area of a vessel, the following lifejacket wear requirements apply when the vessel is underway or at anchor:
- Children who are 12 years old or younger must wear a lifejacket at all times. (lifejacket level depends on where you are operating)
- In circumstances of heightened risk, all occupants must wear a lifejacket level 50 or 50S or higher in semi-protected or protected waters and must wear a lifejacket level 100 or higher in unprotected waters.
Circumstances of heightened risk are:
- when operating alone
- when operating only accompanied by a child, or children, who is 12 years old or younger
- when operating after sunset or before sunrise
- when the boat is disabled
- when crossing an ocean bar
- at times of restricted visibility
- when in an area subject to a gale, storm force, hurricane-force wind, severe thunderstorm or severe weather warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).