Australians have always had a fascination for the water. With the country surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches and waterways in the world, it's really no surprise that fishing, boating, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding have become so popular. When spending time in and around the water it’s critical that the correct safety equipment is available - in particular, personal flotation devices like life vests.
Do you need a life jacket on a boat?
Yes! In Queensland, all boats must have life jackets for all passengers and crew. Regulations vary greatly from state to state. Make sure to check the regulations for your local area before setting out on the water, so you don't cop a hefty fine or put yourself in danger.
Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are an essential piece of safety equipment for everyone who wants to undertake any water sport activity. They make up part of the safety requirements for regulated ships (boats and personal watercraft) and must be included on all vessels large and small. They come in a range of sizes including kid’s life jackets and have specific weight ratings, which will ensure you get the correct fit.
Do life jackets expire?
PFD's don't have official expiry dates, but they can suffer from wear and tear and eventually become unfit for use. To keep your life jacket in the best condition, you should store it in a cool, dry place and give it a check a couple of times a year for wear and tear. The manufacturer's instructions will give you good tips on how to self-service your specific life jacket.
How do you know if your life jacket is out of date?
As of 2010 the Australian Standard for lifejackets was updated in a bid to make lifejackets safer and lower the number of incidents occurring from coast to coast. The new standards ensure all lifejackets have a maximum buoyancy rating which will make them safer. Over the past decade boat owners have been provided a period in which to update their PFD's to comply with the new rules.
January 2021 was the end of that gracing period and now it's crucial for boaties to check that their PFD's are up to date. Fortunately, a new rating system has been put in place which has made it simple to check if you're ready to hit the water. If your lifejacket is marked with either Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3, be warned that your jacket is now out of date. Below we have listed the new ratings and their intended purpose.
Do PFD's come with different buoyancy ratings?
PFDs have been designed in a range of specific buoyancy ratings. They have different styles, colours and accessories to meet certain safety requirements.
Level 50S - Special Purpose: For use in smooth water only. Smooth waters include rivers, lakes, creeks and streams, within half a nautical mile from land. Level 50S is recommended for use during a short time period and can be used for wakeboarding, water skiing and tubing.
Level 50: For use in smooth and partially smooth water. Available in safety colours red and yellow for best visibility. Partially smooth waters include open water within 2 nautical miles from land. Level 50 is designed to provide buoyancy and support the wearer. They can be used for wakeboarding, water skiing and tubing in smooth water and partially smooth water.
Level 100+: Designed with the highest level of safety and can be used in all water conditions. They include a collar that will keep you afloat even in an unconscious state. The perfect addition to any fishing vessel, providing peace of mind that you will be safe all day long. Level 100+ are not to be used for water activities including wakeboarding, water skiing and tubing due to the added collar posing a safety concern.
Inflatable vs standard PFD’s?
When it comes to deciding whether to purchase an inflatable or standard PFD, it really comes to personal choice. Inflatable offerings provide much better comfort and manoeuvrability, they can be worn all day and in the event of an emergency can be deployed with a simple pull toggle. Inflatable PFDs must be checked regularly for wear and tear and it’s recommended to perform an inspection every 2-3 months if your vest is worn regularly. They should also be serviced in periods of no more than two years. Standard PFDs are the most commonly encountered as they are inexpensive and require less maintenance, however, can be a little bulky to wear for long periods.
Do I need to service my inflatable PFD?
All inflatable PFD’s are required to undergo a self-inspection annually, this ensures they are kept in good working condition with bladders, buckles, straps and reflective tape all meeting safety standards. It is recommended that every 3rd year they be checked by an approved service agent.
What are the best jet ski life jackets?
Personal watercrafts (PWC) such as jet skis are seeing a resurgence in popularity in recent times, not only for their compact design but because of their shallow draught, allowing them to gain entry to water that would be inaccessible by boat. As a rule you are required a PFD level 50S for smooth water and level 50 for all waters partially smooth and beyond.