January 03, 2022 6 min read

Life vests are designed to keep people afloat in the water when they are in danger. They are most commonly used in the water, but they are also worn by people when they are on a plane to help with cockpit pressure. A life vest is made of neoprene, which is a type of rubber. The neoprene has straps on it that can be tightened around the wearer's waist and chest. The straps are usually attached to the neoprene with metal clips.

The vest will have an airtight bladder in it that can be inflated by lifting an inflation tube. When the bladder is inflated, it will push up on the wearer's armpits to help keep their head above water or any other liquid. Keep reading this article to know more about how life vests work. Let's dive in.

Why is it Important to Wear a Life Vest

We recommend that everyone wear a life jacket while on a boat or on the water in general. You may be the best swimmer and it may not seem like you need a life jacket, but it doesn't hurt.

Life jackets keep you afloat and protect you from the water around you. Life jackets are crucial on bumpy water or when you go on a boat. Wearing a life jacket is important because it can save your life.

life jacket orange

Every year, more than 1,000 people in the United States die from drowning. Those who drown are usually children under the age of 14, and males in that age bracket are three times more likely to die from drowning.

What is the Difference Between Type II and Type III Life Jackets?

Every year, the number of people that are lost to boating accidents reaches 120. Many of these deaths are caused by the failure to wear a life jacket. One way to combat this is by always wearing a type II life jacket (also known as a "personal flotation device" or PFD). boatus.com states that this type of life jacket will normally allow an individual to remain on the surface of the water for up to twenty minutes.

A type II life vests will still work even if it becomes wet and isn't as cumbersome as a type III (also known as a "harness and tether"). Type III life jackets provide for excellent flotation and will keep your face up for a significantly long period of time than other types of life jacket. The type III life jacket is the best choice for recreational water activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding.

How Do Life Jackets Work?

Most people know that a life jacket is an item of clothing, typically made of buoyant material, worn in an activity or situation when there is a risk of water near the surface, such as kayaking. However, fewer people know how life jackets work.

boy in boat wearing a life jacket

So, how do lifejackets work? Life jackets are designed to help buoy or float people when they are in the water or when they are in the process of swimming. The buoyancy of the life jacket will allow the person to stay afloat in water. A life jacket typically has straps that help to hold the life jacket in place on the person’s body, in order to provide the most buoyancy. A life jacket typically can be inserted into a storage compartment.

How to Maintain a Life Jacket

Just as a car needs regular maintenance to stay functioning, a life jacket needs the same attention. A life jacket is a great tool for staying safe and staying afloat, but if not cared for properly it may not provide its intended function as a safety device. This guide will walk you through the steps of what you can do to maintain your life jacket to make it as safe as possible.

  • Inspect your life jacket or life jacket of choice for any defects that could keep it from performing as a safety device.
  • If you find a defect, discard the life jacket and move on to a new one.
  • Wash your life jacket with fresh water and soap. Dry it thoroughly before storing it.

It is important to clean your life jacket regularly with mild soap or detergent. Consider using a life jacket cleaning kit for this purpose. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends replacing your life jacket every 5 years. If your life jacket is older than five years, it should be replaced. If the life jacket has been involved in a collision, evaluate the damage and replace it if necessary.

Where to Buy a Life Jacket

A life jacket can be one of the most important pieces of equipment on your boat. Keeping one on board is not only a safety precaution for your own vessel, but also for other watercraft that may come across you. It's never too early to think about prevention, so to ensure you're well-prepared, you should know where to purchase life jackets.

Safety should always be your top priority when out on the water, so the first place to check is your local marine supply store. These stores carry all types of equipment including life jackets, so they're a great place to start.


You can also buy a lifejacket or an inflation life vest are at your local hardware store, or at your local Walmart. You can also find them at discount stores. Once you have your life jacket, be sure that you properly put it on your children, this will keep them safe and hydrated.

To Wrap Things Up

Lifejackets are important for safety at any time of year, but they're especially important when around water whatever your hobby is fishing on a broad on the sea or just traveling across the ocean. According to the National Safety Council, every year there are about 10 deaths and 70 injuries from water sports. A life jacket ensures that you won't become one of the people who die or become injured while playing in the water. Life jackets come in two types: inflatable life vest and foam. One type sits in front of the shoulder blades and the other around the breast bone. Both types provide a buoyant support system in the water, but they work a little differently. An inflatable life jacket covers a broader area in the water and it's more buoyant when inflated. A foam life jacket is much thicker and provides much more support. Among many inflatable life jackets, you always can find one that fits your size and weight and will ensure your safety on the water.

Common Questions

Can you still drown with a life jacket?

When at sea, anyone wearing a life vest is less likely to drown than someone without one. Life jackets cannot prevent drowning if the seal around the chest is not tight enough, if the wearer is unconscious, if he is trapped in a sunken boat, or if he has chest or head wounds. Wearing a life vest will only keep you afloat while waiting for rescue.

young couple wearing life jackets

How do life jackets stop you from sinking?

In general, a life jacket's main purpose is to keep a person's head above water. They also provide buoyancy to those who are helpless. Life jackets are a crucial accessory on a recreational boat. When a person is wearing a life jacket they are able to better maneuver the water and less likely to drown.

How long do life jackets keep you afloat?

The question of how long life jackets help keep you afloat is a tough one to answer. A life jacket has a finite buoyancy, which means that the buoyancy diminishes every hour that it's on your person. It's best to discard your life jacket after six hours. This is because, after six hours, the life jacket begins to lose strength.

Do life jackets actually work?

Life jackets are designed to work. So if they don’t, then there was a problem with either the design or the manufacture.
Author - Aleksandra Djurdjevic
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aleksandra Djurdjevic          

Senior Content Creator

Aleksandra Djurdjevic is a senior writer and editor, covering surf, kayak and various watersports activities. She has previously worked as ESL teacher for English Tochka. Aleksandra graduated from the Comparative Literature department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Serbia. Aleksandra’s love for the ocean / rivers, getting out waves, season after season, seeking epic adventures across the globe helps her continue to be a top expert at CSG.



Also in Surf News

pop up technique for surfboard
How to Master the Surfboard Pop-Up Technique

May 17, 2022 4 min read

girl on surfboard
Cheap Surf Trips Ideas

May 10, 2022 8 min read

how snorkeling works
How Snorkeling Works

May 10, 2022 5 min read

Sign up for our Newsletter

Spin to win Spinner icon