Q. What is the difference between a lifejacket and a buoyancy aid

A. Both types of device are classed as personal flotation devices (PFDs), however a lifejacket will fully support the wearer in the water and work to rotate them into a face up position even if they’re unconscious. Lifejackets also offer more buoyancy, which increases the distance between the waterline and the airway (mouth freeboard). A buoyancy aid on the other hand is not designed to fully support the wearer in the water but will provide extra buoyancy to provide support to help reduce fatigue when in the water. Lifejackets are designed for swimmers and non-swimmers alike whilst buoyancy aids should only be worn by competent swimmers and where help is close to hand. Where appropriate, a PFD should always be worn when on or near the water.

Q. How does a lifejacket work to keep me safe

A. The key aim of a lifejacket is to protect the wearer’s airway. Lifejackets do this by working to rotate the wearer into a face up position and by increasing mouth freeboard. The highly visible lifejacket bladder combined with reflective tape means that by wearing a lifejacket you increase your chances of being seen in the water. All lifejackets include a whistle that can be used to help draw attention in an emergency. Lifejackets that are rated 150N and above will include a lifting becket as standard that is load bearing and can be used to help the casualty be lifted to safety. Optional extras such as a lifejacket light, spray hood and emergency beacon will also be hugely beneficial in either further protecting the airway or increasing the chances of a swift recovery.

Q. What is a Newton?

A. A Newton is a metric measurement of force used to indicate how much buoyancy a lifejacket has to offer. The higher the number, the more buoyancy offered. To support a 1Kg weight you need a force of 9.8 Newtons. 1 Newton is equal to 0.225lb. A 150N adult lifejacket will therefore support someone with an in water weight of 15.3Kg or 33.7lbs.

Q. What is the difference between a 150N and a 275N Lifejacket

A. A 275N lifejacket contains more buoyancy than that of a 150N. For someone who is going to be in a remote area where help is not close to hand or the wearer is going to be wearing additional/heavy clothing then it is recommended to opt for a higher level of buoyancy. Clothing, such as heavy weight foul weather gear will trap air between the clothing and can affect how the lifejacket rotates and holds the wearer in the water. The additional buoyancy of the 275 (or 290N) lifejacket will help overcome this affect.

Q. What is the difference between a 50N, 60N and 70N buoyancy aid?

A. All buoyancy aids are approved to the 50N standard but some are designed to have a greater amount of actual buoyancy for particular uses. 70N is recommended for whitewater paddling and sports with fast running water.

Q. Do I need to be trained in how to use my lifejacket?

A. In an emergency there is no time to learn how equipment works. In a safe environment, Crewsaver highly recommend that you (and any crew members) familiarise yourself with the lifejacket to ascertain the performance before use in an emergency. This includes correct fitting, features of the lifejacket and how they work. It is worth noting that wearing a lifejacket correctly will not only keep it in the optimum place for in-water performance, but will actually make the lifejacket more comfortable to wear too. Remember that you may need replacement rearming parts to get your lifejacket ready for use again after any in water familiarisation training!

Q. What is the difference between a Hammar head and an automatic head?

A. Both of these heads are activated by water triggering the mechanism. In addition, the Hammar mechanism is protected by a valve which only allows water to enter within 5 seconds after it has reached a depth of 100-200mm. This mechanism gives good resistance to exposure during heavy weather. The standard automatic head by its design is resistant to rainfall and relies on the lifejacket cover for resistance to wave action. A Hammar mechanism is activated by water pressure. Meaning if you are going to get very wet whilst wearing it, it will not inflate. An automatic head is activated by water (not water pressure). It is splash resistant as the water needs to travel through the capsule, but if you are going to get very wet then it will be activated.

Q. Will my lifejacket automatically inflate when I fall in the water?

A. No, some lifejackets are designed to be manually activated only. Always make sure you know what type you’re wearing and if it is suitable for the activity. All inflatable gas lifejackets will come with a manual override, make sure you know where this is and that it is accessible.

Q. Does a lifejacket always include a sprayhood and light

A. No. Not all lifejackets will have a light and/or spray hood fitted as standard, be sure to check what your lifejacket includes.

Q. What does my Product Serial Numbers Mean

A. Product serial numbers will be allocated to all products after final assembly, testing and inspection and will conform to the following standard format. Example below:




Year: 13 = 2013 Month: 09 = September Unique Serial Number: 12345

Q. What does the number mean on my inflation chamber?

A. This is positioned along the bottom edge of the left-hand side of the bladder when worn. In addition, every batch will carry an identification number which is applied after testing. This number will conform to the following standard format that enables traceability of the product.

Q. Can I wear anything over the top of my lifejacket such as my sailing coat?

A. You must not wear anything over the top of your lifejacket as it will interfere with how the lifejacket performs and may even prevent it from inflating in an emergency.

Q. What does it mean to be #LifejacketSafe?

A. Crewsaver is determined to bring about change in people’s attitudes towards lifejacket safety, not wearing a lifejacket in the most extreme cases can be fatal; equally wearing a lifejacket that has not been looked after correctly or is not fit for purpose can also be very damaging. Often boaters are spotted out on the water either not wearing a lifejacket at all, wearing a damaged lifejacket or one that is incorrectly fitted.

The #LifejacketSafe campaign aims to increase safety awareness by highlighting the importance of not only wearing a personal flotation device, but also making sure it is worn correctly and is well maintained. So, if the worst should happen, you are well equipped and can rest assured that your safety equipment is not going to let you down. Answer the following questions to gauge whether you are #LifejacketSafe.

Do you…

  • Wear a lifejacket and wear it correctly?
  • Get your lifejacket serviced annually?
  • Wear the right lifejacket for your activity?
  • Follow care and maintenance guidelines?

TOP TIP: All Crewsaver lifejackets come with a user manual. It is highly recommended to familiarise yourself with its contents and keep it somewhere accessible for it to be referenced when needed. Contents include handy top tips, how-to guides and instructions into how to keep your lifejacket action ready.

Can’t find what you need?  Follow Crewsaver on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for weekly #LifejacketSafe top tips. Alternatively, please contact and we will endeavour to assist with your enquiry as soon as possible