Life jacket – because human body do not float

Posted by: Judit

2015-03-23

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There are old sailors... there are careless sailors... there are no old careless sailors... old Scottish proverb. Well-known fact that in three-fourths of all fatal boating accidents, the cause of death is drowning. And, in 88% of those drownings the person did not wear a life jacket.Why are life jackets important? Simple, because human body don’t float.

Simply wearing a life jacket isn’t enough – anyone putting on a jacket should make sure that it fits properly, and the straps are done up too. An incorrect fastened life jacket can move upwards on body. The strap that has to be originally around waist can slip under breast and the strap that should have been on chest can shift over head. This shifting of the jacket can cause a dangerous position.

Prior to the last 10 to 20 years, ask someone to wear a life jacket when going out on a boat, and they would roll their eyes or say, “I can swim.” Most boaters found life jackets cumbersome and chose not to wear them. Say “life jacket” to most people, and they immediately think of the bulky, uncomfortable device found on life rafts aboard seagoing vessels. But times have changed. The life jackets of today are stylish, wearable and comfortable.

Short History

Life vests have saved tens of thousands of lives since threscue3eir invention. They are one of the most important safety inventions of our time, with an even greater importance to those that work in the maritime, fishing or shipping industries. The type of material used in life jackets is extremely important as it not only has to keep the wearer afloat in case of accident, it also needs to keep their head above water and be light and comfortable enough that it gets worn in the first place.

How did life vests come to be, who invented them and what materials were used?

The first form dates back to 870 BC when inflated animal skins were used to help an Assyrian King’s army cross deep moats. Moving forward in time to the early days of seafarers, with boats being made almost entirely out of wood, sailors used pieces of wood to help them float in case of an accident or shipwreck.

In the 1850s a British Royal National Lifeboat Inspector by the name of Captain John Ward created a life vest made entirely out of cork. Cork is lightweight and highly buoyant and Captain Ward’s invention is often credited as the first modern life vest. 

The next great innovation in the history of life vests was brought about by war, as so many great inventions are. At the end of World War I an American inventor named Peter Markus, patented the Mae West, an inflatable life vest. Its lack of bulk made it easy for sailors to sleep, eat and work while still wearing a life vest.  During WWII, US Army Forces and Royal Air Force servicemen were issued inflatable life vests as a standard part of their flight gear. It was during that war that former American president George H.W. Bush, then a torpedo bomber pilot, was saved by a Mae West vest after his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean.

Why to wear your life jacket

Most drownings occur way out at sea, right? Wrong! Fact is, 9 out of 10 drownings occur in inland waters, most within a few feet of safety. Most of the victims owned life jackets, but they died without them. 

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Teach your children to properly wear a life vest. Children panic when they fall into the water suddenly. This causes them to move their arms and legs violently, making it hard to float safely. A life jacket will keep a child afloat, but may not keep a struggling child face-up. That’s why it’s so important to teach children how to put on a life jacket and to help them get used to wearing one in the water.

Life jackets are not babysitters. Even though a child wears a life vest when on or near the water, an adult should always be there, too. Parents should remember that inflatable toys and rafts should not be used in place of life vests.

Periodic testing of all life jackets should become a habit. Practicing swimming while wearing a life vest and getting to know its characteristics is essential. Try putting on the device while you’re in the water it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

How to care: 

  • Don’t alter your life vest. If yours doesn’t fit, get one that does. Play it safe. 
  • Don’t put heavy objects on it or use it for a kneeling pad or boat fender. Life vests lose buoyancy when crushed.
  • Let your life jacket dry thoroughly before putting it away.
  • Never dry your life vest on a radiator, heater, or any other direct heat source.
  • Check your life vest often for rips, tears and holes, and to see that seams, fabric straps, and hardware are okay.

How much is your life worth?

Our products are manufactured by the market leader Baltic Safety Products, a Swedish company that made lifejackets since 1977. Their  philosophy: is impossible to compromise quality and functionality and this philosophy has made Baltic SP one of the largest manufacturers in Europe. Regarding function and design Baltic has put style into buoyancy aids. Baltic Safety Products developed ranges of comfortable life jackets an buoyancy aids for adults, children and even for pets (dogs and cats).

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