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Lifejacket or Buoyancy Aid – Manual or Automatic?

There is an important difference between a lifejacket and a buoyancy aid. A lifejacket is designed to turn the wearer over and keep their head clear of the water, even if unconscious.  Buoyancy aids will simply provide assistance to a conscious person who can swim.  

Air only lifejackets rely upon inflation to provide buoyancy and have no built-in buoyancy which makes them extremely compact and comfortable to wear.  They are available in manual or automatic the difference being that with an automatic lifejacket inflation is provided by the CO2 cylinder being activated on the wearer becoming submerged, without the wearer having to take any action and may therefore assist in saving the life of an unconscious person.  Of course, the lifejacket may also be fired manually.

Whilst automatic lifejackets may be subject to unexpected activation by particularly deep wading or inappropriate storage (the most common example being stored in the car at the end of the day with other wet clothing) we consider the benefits of automatic lifejackets to considerably outweigh these occasional inconveniences and would recommend their use over manual versions.

The majority of 150N air only (inflatable) lifejackets use a 33gram CO2 to inflate the buoyancy chamber and this can either be activated manually by pulling the toggle or fired by a capsule which reacts with water and allows the gas cylinder to be activated automatically.

We supply a range of CO2 cylinders and automatic capsules, however, customers tend to purchase a re-arming pack to suit their lifejacket which contains both the cylinder and capsule required to re-arm the lifejacket after activation.