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About Life Jackets

A life jacket, also known as a personal floatation device or a PFD, is a simple solution that protects swimmers from drowning. Being made of lightweight materials and pockets that trap air, it provides buoyancy to help a person stay afloat in water.  

The most important safety equipment for an athlete performing any of the water sports is life jackets. Even if they are really good at swimming, it is still important to wear a personal floatation device because such sports usually happen in rough waters. Furthermore, a person might find it really hard or even unable to swim if he or she is exhausted. Read this article before you start shopping for PFDs. This article will tell you about the different types of PFDs that exist and will help you choose the right one depending on your needs. 

Types of life jackets or personal flotation devices 

There are mainly four different types of life jackets. All of these are approved for professional and personal use by the US coast guard. So, whether you are going canoeing or kayaking or are a professional lifeguard, these PFDs will be useful for you. But before you decide which one of them is right for you, you need to know more about the different types of them. Here are the four types of personal floatation devices and the pros and cons of each one of them. You can also find the tips on selecting the right type of life jacket in this article as well. 

Standard life jackets 

This is the most common type of life jacket or personal flotation device. One reason for the popularity of standard life jackets is the fact that they are affordable and do not require much maintenance to keep them in working order. Such PFDs are easy to design as well because they make use of materials that are inherently buoyant like lightweight plastic and pre-inflated air pockets made of durable materials like hard plastics. Also, such PFDs are extremely versatile as well. You can use them for kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing and many other types of activities. 

Inflatable life jackets 

The main advantage of inflatable jackets is that they are really compact. And for that reason, they don't take up as much storage space as a standard PFD. Such PFDs are also more comfortable to put on and wear for an extended period of time. As you can imagine, inflatable life jackets are not inherently buoyant. Unless you inflate the PFD, they won't help you float on top of the water. This poses a safety risk because if the person fell into the water and is unconscious, this PFD will not help that person. Usually, these jackets use CO2 cartridges for quick and easy inflation. Therefore, they require more maintenance than a standard PFD.  

Hybrid life jackets 

Hybrid personal floatation devices offer the best of both worlds by combining the benefits of both standard and inflatable PFDs. This makes them inherently buoyant to a certain extent but in a more compact package than a standard PFD. It is also possible to inflate them further to provide additional buoyancy in case the person falls into the water. However, one downside of such PFDs is that they cost much more than a standard life jacket. But for professionals who need to regularly wear PFDs as a part of their work, hybrid life jackets are definitely worth it.  

Animal life jackets 

Most animals, including cats and dogs, are usually good swimmers. So, you might be wondering then what is the purpose of an animal life jacket. But in reality, even though animals are good swimmers, they do tend to get tired pretty quickly, especially so if they are not used to swimming. Tired animals will find it difficult to keep their heads above the water. Having life jackets can be a real lifesaver in those cases. Another reason to put a life jacket on your pet is to avoid accidental drowning due to falls when the animal might not be prepared to swim.

Tips on buying the right type of life jacket

Selecting a PFD might seem like a simple task at first, especially for people who are just starting out. But more experienced people will know that there are a few things to consider while buying them. You have to treat the task of finding the right life jacket like a matter of life or death because sometimes it really can be a matter of life and death. However, it is easy to find the right one if you know what and all to consider in a good PFD. Here are some tips that you can follow while you are shopping for them.  
  • Size - In the case of life jackets, size matters a lot. The maximum weight that PFD can support depends a lot on the size of the jacket. Larger life jackets displace more water than a smaller one and can displace and therefore support the weight proportional to the size of the jacket. That being said, you don't have to measure the volume of a jacket before buying. Instead, you can refer to the manufacturer recommendation to find out how much weight does it support. 
  • Type of the jacket - As you might have understood, some types of PFDs are more compact than the others. Compact life jackets are not only easy to wear, but they are also easy to store and transport. The size of the jacket becomes a real issue if you are carrying more than a few of them at a time. However, compact life jackets are also more expensive.  
  • Colour - This factor is often overlooked by people while shopping for PFDs. In the case of life, jackets, colour matters a lot. Colour of the PFD will affect the visibility of the jacket. So which colour should you choose for a life jacket? One rule that is always true is to go for a PFD of bright colour regardless of whether it is yellow or red. Also having an extra layer of reflective coating on top of that is also useful. 
  • Handles - If somebody is in the water struggling and you are trying to rescue that person, the first thing to look for in a safe place to hold them. You should not give them a chance to drown you. That is why it is common for life jackets to come with handles. For animals, the handle usually goes on the back, and for people, the handle is usually near their sides. 
If you are somebody who takes up swimming as a sport, you will need other accessories as well apart from life jackets, including goggles and snorkels. The good news is that you can find all of them easily using our product search engine. This will also let you compare the features and prices of different products and choose the best one among them. Also, don't forget to check out other amazing products from the Sports & Outdoor category on Shops.ae.

Question & Answer

Which life jacket is best? 

When you compare all the pros and cons of different types of PFDs, it becomes clear that a hybrid life jacket combines the benefits of both standard and inflatable PFDs. Therefore, for the most part, hybrid jackets are the best option. They are compact, making them easy to carry and comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. Because they are both inherently buoyant and also use air, they can support more weight than other types of PFDs. However, all of these benefits come at a higher price point.  

When do life jackets expire? 

From a purely technical point of view, PFDs do not ever expire. They are just lightweight materials that help you float on top of the water. Hence, there is little to no mechanism inside that can potentially go wrong. But some materials can lose their buoyancy due to various reasons. This can be due to improper storage or due to constant wear and tear. Constant contact with water and sweat can cause the plastic in the PFD to deteriorate and might cause the formation of holes in it. That being said, inflatable PFDs always come with an expiry date.  

How to test if a life jacket is safe? 

Testing a PFD is not something that you will be doing on a daily basis. In fact, experts only recommend that you check the working and condition of it once every year. And if you are getting a jacket from a theme park or a swimming pool that is well maintained, the chances are that it is already tested for safety. The easiest way to look for damages is a visual inspection. Look for any visible signs of disintegration or the presence of holes in the jacket. Also, check if the jacket has a proper fit when you wear it.   If you are looking to buy life jackets online in the UAE, look no further as you are in the right place. There are more than 500 shops and brands offering them here on Shops.ae. These include brands like Lalizas, Yamaha, Secumar, Decathlon, Speedo, and Switlik. Explore the products from shops like Sun & Sand SportsMenakartLifestyle, and many more.