Life jackets are surprisingly confusing...
In Australia, there are many different rules governing which life jacket you need to wear. The type of activity you are performing; the body of water you are performing it on; the State or Territory you live in - all play a part in determining which personal flotation device you need to be wearing. With the help of Chris Sanford from Menace Marine, we've pulled together this introductory guide to life jackets in Australia to help you understand the rules and regulations before you go out and buy a PFD.
The type of life jacket you need depends on:
The water you are in
The activity you are doing
The State or Territory you are in
Australian Standard Life Jacket - AS4758
The current standard in Australia for Life Jackets is AS4758, but it is important to know that regulations change slightly from state to state, so your best bet is to get a hold of your state's Recreational Boating Safety Handbook, and confirm your requirements. We've provided a link to each State's website below:
Level 100 Life Jacket
The Level 100 life jacket is the personal flotation device (PFD) of choice for use in open waters. It is considered a type 1 PFD.
The Level 100 life jacket provides 100 Newtons (N) of buoyancy, a collar to keep the head above water, inbuilt functions to turn the person's face up, and is considered the safest life jacket if you are out on the water.
Level 50 Life Jacket
The Level 50 life jacket is the personal flotation device (PFD) of choice for use in partially smooth waters and considered a type 2 PFD.
The Level 50 life jacket is a speciality life jacket built for wakeboarding, water skiing, kite boarding, and other water based activities that require movement. The Level 50 life jacket does not have the same collar of the Level 100, hugs the body more and allows for greater freedom of movement.
Level 50s Life Jacket
The Level 50s life jacket is the personal flotation device (PFD) of choice for use in smooth waters and considered a type 3 PFD.
The Level 50s life jacket is a speciality PFD used for active watersports that don't require as much buoyancy and are performed in a controlled environment.