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Personal flotation devices - life jackets
Personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life jackets, 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 the conditions. If you’re not sure, answer some quick questions to know before you go.
Life jacket level 100 or higher
A level 100 or higher has sufficient flotation to support body and head. The flotation collar keeps your head above water. Do not use as a cushion. Not permitted for water skiing, aqua-planing and like activity. 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), or Personal flotation devices—Type 1 AS 1512.1996
- 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 Life jackets-275N, EN396-1993 Life jackets-150N, or EN395-1993 Life jackets-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 life-jackets required to be carried on Australian registered ships.
Life jacket 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 PFD 1, 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, sail boarding, kite boarding 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, or AS1499:1996
- European Standard EN393-1993 Life jackets-50N
- International Organization for Standardization ISO 12402-5. Level 100
Life jacket level 50S
Similar to level 50, a level 50S life jacket 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 sail boarding. 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, or AS2260.
SOLAS (safety of life at sea) life jacket
A very bulky life jacket, 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.
Coastal life jacket
This multi-fit life jacket has more flotation than a PFD 1. It has a whistle attached for attracting attention. It is recommended for use on larger vessels operating far offshore.