Buoyancy aids are not life jackets: expert

  • By Hsu Li-chuan and Jonathan Chin / Journalist, with an editor

Buoyancy aids are not life jackets and should not be used as personal flotation devices, the owner of a water sports center said on Thursday after two people drowned the day before when their raft went down. knocked down on Lotus Pond in Zuoying District in Kaohsiung (左營).

The Kaohsiung District Prosecutor’s Office said instructor Tsai Mao-yao (蔡茂耀) and a boy named Wang (王), whom Tsai was coaching, died in the incident.

A preliminary investigation showed Tsai was not wearing a life jacket, while Wang was wearing a flotation device, the office told local media.

Photo: Hsu Li-chuan, Taipei Times

Lotus Pond Water Sports Center general manager Chu Wen-hsiang (朱文祥) said improper use of a buoyancy aid could have contributed to the drowning.

Many buoyancy aids are designed as a lightweight vest to provide kayakers or rowers with ease of movement and some support if their vessel capsizes, he said.

Although the vests provide some buoyancy to help swimmers, they are not intended as a lifesaving device, he said.

Buoyancy aids are not designed to generate positive buoyancy, meaning a person would sink if they stopped swimming, with the added risk of their head being submerged even if the vest helped them stay partially afloat , did he declare.

According to European standards, a buoyancy device can only be considered a lifejacket if it has a load capacity of 100 newtons, while a lifejacket is only suitable for an unconscious person at 150 newtons. A device with a carrying capacity of 50 newtons is a buoyancy aid.

As a result, buoyancy vests are rarely used outside of professional water sports, which are governed by different safety rules, he said.

In Taiwan, only dragon boat rowing festivals in Taipei and Kaohsiung require rowers to wear personal flotation devices, he said, adding that Wang apparently wore a lightweight buoyancy vest used by surfers.

Life jackets can often be distinguished from buoyancy vests because they have crotch straps, which are only used due to their higher weight, he said.

Additionally, the advanced devices have buckles and chest straps that help keep the user’s head above the water and ensure that the lifejacket does not come loose when in use. fired during a rescue attempt, he added.

People should ensure their life jacket has an appropriate European standards rating, which changes with the intended user’s body weight, he said.

Jackets made by reputable brands that use clear technical labeling and an insurance policy are also important issues to consider before making a purchase, he said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. The final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

Comments are closed.