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  • How to buy a life jacket


    It should go without saying that a life jacket is not an optional fashion accessory, but a mandatory piece of equipment that saves lives.

    narrowboat security canal

    While life jackets should be worn year round, as the days grow shorter and the water colder it is more important than ever to ensure that you and everyone on your boat is equipped with the correct buoyancy aid or life jacket.

    In the same way you wouldn’t make a journey in a car without a seat belt on, you should not think about heading out onto the water without your life jacket no matter how calm or sheltered the water seems.


    Getting the right fit

    The life jacket works by giving you extra buoyancy so if you do fall in the water it is easier for you to stay above it. However, because humans (obviously!) differ in size and weight they will also differ in natural buoyancy and will need different levels of support.

    For adults it is important that the life jacket fits snuggly across the chest and that the jacket has an attachment through the legs (crotch strap) to ensure it will not slip off. The buoyancy aid should also come with an emergency whistle to attract attention and preferably have reflective strips should you need to be searched for with lights.

    Check out our charts here for a more detailed guide.


    Children’s life jackets.

    Again, our guide here will provide more precise measurements, but you should ensure the jacket comes with a padded collar to support the neck and to keep the head out of water, a handle to pull the child out of the water, as well as all the other features mentioned above.


    lifejackets bouyancy aids

    Newton measurements

    There are four European standards for life jackets relating to how buoyant the jacket is. The least buoyant (level 50) should only be used in sheltered closed water where help is close by, whereas the most buoyant (level 275) is designed for those heading offshore who are wearing heavy clothing.

    150 Newtons is the standard buoyancy requirement for coastal sailing and should turn an unconscious person onto their back.

    All jackets should carry the CE mark.

    Check out our full range of life jackets here!

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