What´s the difference between different personal flotation devices?

Peronal flotation devices (PFDs) can be devided into two main groups: lifejackets and buoyancy aids. Here´s an explanation of their main features.

 

Lifejackets:

A lifejacket saves lives. It is constructed to always turn the user into a safe back position, keeping the airways well above the waterline, even if the wearer is unconcious or unable to swim. Lifejackets are available with an inflatable lung or with inherent buoyancy (foam). Common to all is that in an activated state the majority of boyancy is on the front, and there is a sturdy collar to support the head. A lifejacket is the obvious chice for non swimmers.

The minimum buoyancy of a lifejacket is 100N. The inflatable models are divided into different classes depending on what conditions they are intended for. An automatic model will automatically inflate when the submerged in water, while a manual lifejacket must be activated by the user.    

 

Buoyancy aids (50N):

Personal flotation devices with a buoyancy of 50N are called buoyancy aids. A 50N buoyancy aid will keep the user afloat by a good margin, but lacks a collar for head support. The buoyancy is more evenly distributed between front and back, consequently not ensuring to turn an unconcious user into a back position. Therefor a buoyancy aid is recommended for swimmers weighing 25kg an above.

All products in the Baltic range of flotation clothing are tested and approved according to the 50N standard.

 

What type of PFD should I choose?

An ergonomically designed lifejacket is comfortable to wear even for longer periods. A great fit and user-friendliness are two very important features when we develop our products, all in order to make the lifejacket as easy and comfortable as possible to wear and thereby increasing the possibility that it is actually used. We have a wide range of models so that you can always find the lifejacket that suits you and your activity best. 

Since a lifejacket has a lot of buoyancy at the front, it can be difficult to swim in. Therefore, we recommend a 50N buoyancy aid for activities such as dinghy sailing, kayaking and other water sports where swimming is more common. In this category you find buoyancy aids with a variety of properties adapted for different users and conditions.

Our recommendations:

  • Lifejackets for sailing and motorboat and for people who can not swim
  • 50N buoyancy aids for all water activities where you more regularly find yourself in the water

The right size!

A PFD must fit! It should sit firmly, but comfortably, and not move around on the body. This is actually more important than having your exact weight on the label. Children must never have a PFD “to grow in to”.

When choosing a PFD: make sure all zips and buckles are properly fastened and adjusted. Make sure the PFD doesn’t move up towards the neck or chin when stretching your arms upwards (ask someone to gently lift the shoulders of the vest). The PFD should sit firmly on the body and there should be no air between the vest and the shoulders.

Remember:

  1. No air between the PFD and the shoulders
  2. Firmly fitted to the body
  3. Closed zips
  4. Fastened buckles and adjusted straps

Newton classification of lifejackets, buoyancy aids and flotation clothing

50 Newton / EN ISO 12402-5
Flytvästar och flytkläder som håller en person flytande med god marginal, lämpliga för skyddade vatten. Requires swimming skills as they do not help the user to turn in to a safe back position. For swimmers from 25 kg and up.

 

100 Newton / EN ISO 12402-4
Lifejackets in the 100N class has the majority of buoyancy on the front, as well as a large collar. The lifejacket turns the user in to a safe back position with the airways well above the waterline. Suitable for both swimmers and non swimmers.

150 Newton/ EN ISO 12402-3
Inflatable lifejackets that when inflated turns the user in to a safe back position with the airways well above the waterline. Suitable for offshore sailing and foul weather clothing. Available with automatic or manual inflation. For users from 40 kg and up.

275 Newton/ EN ISO 12402-2
Inflatable lifejackets that when inflated turns the user in to a safe back position with the airways well above the waterline. Suitable for offshore sailing, extreme conditions, special protective clothing and/or heavy equipment. Available with automatic or manual inflation. For users from 40 kg and up.

Note! An inflatable lifejacket does not offer any buoyancy until activated/inflated.