2. Historical Evolution of Life Jackets.
Original “Life Preserver” typically a wood plant, empty barrel or
cork blocks used by Norwegian seamen.
In 1852, carriage requirements for commercial ships; mandated
life jackets be wearable with tight fit.
• Wood plank replaced cork; granulated cork banned in 1857.
• In 1902, Kapok introduced; discarded due to flammability,
but gained popularity by 1918.
• Ten years later balsa wood approved; light-weight; excellent
3. In early 1900’s, only choice: Type I, Off-Shore Commercial
For open, rough or remote water; slow rescue
Highly visible fabric with reflective tape
Turned most unconscious wearers face-up in water
Turning Momentum; could breathe & not ingest water
Unlikely to be worn for long periods of time
4. In 1940, USCG assesses recreational life jacket needs; life
preserver design for shorter periods of time; not bulky, better
Type II Near Shore Buoyant Vest
• Less buoyancy; less bulky; more comfortable
• Good for calm, inland waters; good chance of fast rescue
• Turns some unconscious wearers face-up in water; not always
• Dependent on wearer’s body type and density
5. By 1964, it was agreed a more consumer responsive life jacket
• Commercial Requirements too stringent.
• All components prescribed in Code of Federal Regulations
• Shape of product & foam, placement of foam prescribed in
• Stitching patterns, stitch type, box-x, T-tabs prescribed in CFR
• No deviation from USCG CONSTRUCTION STANDARD
6. To develop a different standard, adult minimum buoyancy
requirements and in-water performance characteristics would need
to be validated
• Contract DOT-CG-90511 A awarded to Arthur D. Little, Inc.
• Study Funded by US Dept. of Commerce
7. “Buoyancy and Stability Characteristics of the Human Body
and Personal Flotation Devices”
• Most adults needed an extra seven (7) to twelve (12) pounds of
buoyancy to keep their heads above.
• Minimum buoyancy requirement 15.5 lbs.
• Average dry weight of subject 165 lb., average height 5’10”
• Extremities affected body’s center of gravity; center of
• Optimum performance contingent upon congruency of the
wearer’s center or gravity and center of buoyancy in his body.
8. The introduction of the Type III Flotation Aid in 1973 was a
revolutionary concept. For the first time in history, life
jackets could be USCG approved as per a PERFORMANCE
UL Standard 1123.
Type III Approval enabled recreational life jackets to address
an identified safety need or consumer preference or to be
customized for participating in watersports activities.
9. TYPE V SPECIAL PURPOSE DEVICES.
• Wind Surfing Harness/Vests
• Pullover Vests
• Ballistic Flotation Devices for marine law enforcement
• White Water Rafting Vests
10. Impact of Federal and State Carriage Requirements.
• PROPERLY SIZED life jackets for every person on a boat
Impact of Federal and State Mandatory Wear
• PROPERLY SIZED AND WORN life jackets!
50 US States and territories require kids Under 13 to wear;
3 stipulate higher ages.
National Parks Service requires kids Under 13 to wear.
United States Coast Guard requires kids Under 13 to wear.
Australia requires kids less than 12 to wear when in a vessel
less than 4.8 meters in length and when in an open are of a
vessel less than 8 meter in length when underway.
Ireland requires kids up to the age of 16 years old on all
12. What…..Personal Watercraft [all ages]
56 US States and territories require operators and riders and
those being towed by this type of vessel to wear a life jacket at all
In New South Wales, Australia it is compulsory to wear a life
jacket when riding a PWC.
In Ireland, every person on a PWC or while being towed by a
PWC is mandated to wear a lifejacket or personal flotation
13. What…..Non-Powered Watercraft
For Illinois and Mississippi [Under 13], a life jacket must be
worn for kayaks.
5 states require a life jacket be worn when on sailboards; 3 of
these five states tie it to under 16 years of age.
14. For sailboats, canoes, kayaks and rafts, both New Mexico and
Oregon require a life jacket be worn; In Pennsylvania ,this
requirement is applicable to kids 12 and under only.
Australia requires all occupants of a canoe or kayak on enclosed
waters when more than 100 meters from shore and ocean waters
wear a life jacket.
Australia also requires a person kitesurfing alone more than 400
meters from shore must wear a life jacket;
New South Wales requires a person kitesurfing or windsurfing,
or those in canoes and kayaks alone more than 400 meters from
shore must wear a life jacket.
15. What…..Tow-Behind Activities
44 US States and territories require a life jacket be worn for tow-
Australia requires all persons being towed to wear a life jacket.
Ireland requires all persons being towed to wear a life jacket.
Hazardous conditions or specific locations
• 4 states specify above and/or below a hydraulic dam.
• 3 states specify any river in the state
• 4 states target specific rivers instead of all rivers in their
17. District of Columbia, Utah and Washington require mandatory
wear for specific locations.
Texas requires life jackets be worn on Lytle Lake for tow-behind
On Pittsburgh District US .Army Corp of Engineer lakes,
everyone in boats under 16 feet including canoes and kayaks
must wear a USCG Approved life jacket.
Upper Delaware River [New Jersey and New York]
Grand Canyon National Parks
18. When……Specific Time of Year
New York requires owners and operators of pleasure craft
less than 21 feet, including rowboats, canoes and kayaks
wear a USCG approved life jacket between November 1st
and May 1st.
19. When/What and Where…..
Specific Time of year on Specific Vessels or in Specific
Connecticut requires a life jacket be worn for all people on
board a manually propelled vessel between October 1st and
Maine requires a life jacket be worn for anyone canoeing or
kayaking on the Saco River between Hiram Dam and the
Atlantic Ocean between January 1st and June 1st.
20. Maryland requires all persons aboard a vessel, raft or tube to
wear a life jacket at all times when on the Upper Potomac River
between November 15th and the following May 15th.
Massachusetts requires a life jacket be worn for all on board a
canoe or kayak between September 15th to May 15th.
West Virginia requires all persons aboard a vessel, raft or tube
to wear a life jacket at all times while on the Shenandoah River
within the boundaries of West Virginia during the period
beginning 12:01am each November 15 and ending at 12
midnight each succeeding May 15.
22. WHAT IS APPROPRIATE SIZING?
• ANATOMICAL FIT ON WEARER
• SUFFICIENT BUOYANCY ON WEARER
• IN-WATER STABILITY ON WEARER
23. • ANATOMICAL FIT ON WEARER
Adult dual sizes have become larger than ever before
offering not just L/XL and 2XL/3XL, but also
Dual chest size ranges can be minimally 6 inches to as
high as 12 inches per size.
Adult Super Large sizes of Model AK-1s are the rule
now instead of being the exception.
“Bubba” Fishing vests are very common.
24. FUTURE GOALS AND PROJECTS:
A research project to identify how plus sized
patterns were created for apparel, protective
clothing, rainwear, wetsuits, drysuits and
rashguards for adults, teens, and kids.
Life Jacket Sizing that correlates with Women’s,
Kids/Teens and Men’s King sized clothing.
25. • SUFFICIENT BUOYANCY ON WEARER
Size of Life Jacket Minimum Buoyancy
Adult Device for persons weighing more than 90 lbs. (41 kg) 15 lb. 8 oz.
Youth-Adult for persons weighing more than 75 lb. (34 kg)
and meets the performance and minimum requirements of
both youth and adult devices within the size range specified
on the device. 13 lb. 8 oz.
Youth Large-Adult XX-Small for persons weighing at least 75
lb. (34 kg) but not more than 125 lb.(57 kg). It shall be
designed for chest size ranges no larger than 33 inches
(914mm) and meets the minimum performance
requirements for both youth and adult devices within the size
specified on the device. 13 lb. 8 oz.
Youth Device for persons weighing not less than 50 lbs.(23kg)
but not more than 90 lbs. (41 kg.) 11.0 lb.
26. Size of Life Jacket Minimum Buoyancy
Child Device for persons weighing not less than30 lbs. (14
kg.) but not more than 50 lbs. (23 kg.) 7.0 lb.
Infant/Child for a child weighing less than 50 lb. (23 kg.) 7.0 lb.
Infant Device for a child weighing less than 30 lb. (14 kg) 7.0 lb.
## to ## lbs (kg) for a device marked INFANT that covers a weight range other
than Less than 30 lbs. (14 kg) where the ## symbols are replaced by the actual
range tested for the device in pounds and kilograms.
The minimum weight ranges for such devices shall not be less than 7 lb. (3.2 kg)
27. It should be noted intrinsic buoyancy amounts for children
including teens should be defined and quantified as soon as
Sizing Elements Infant Child Youth Teens
Weight Ranges Under 30 lbs. 30-50 lbs. 50-90 lbs. UNKNOWN
Chest Size Ranges N/A 23-25 inches 26-29 inches UNKNOWN
7.0 lb. 7.0 lb. 11.0 lbs. UNKNOWN
UNKNOWN UNKNOWN UNKNOWN UNKNOWN
AGE UNKNOWN UNKNOWN UNKNOWN 13-18 yrs of age
28. • The most obvious unknown is the lack of quantified
anatomical data for teens for physical properties
such as dry weight, chest sizes and minimum
• As for quantified anatomical data for intrinsic
buoyancy, no data exists for any of the sizes.
• And finally age points for known child sizing have
never been established either.
29. • IN-WATER STABILITY ON WEARER
Life Jacket optimum performance is in-water stability.
HOW TO ACHIEVE THAT?
CONGRUENCY OF CENTER OF GRAVITY WITH
CENTER OF BUOYANCY.
An isolated subject during approval testing fails the jump
test or ride-up test or inexplicably is placed face-down
while being measured for body angle.
A subject continues to bob in the water and cannot
stabilize for measuring freeboard during approval testing.
30. When annual swim tests were conducted, frequently one out
of the three required subjects would be considered a
“failure” thus requiring an expanded sample base to be
needed. And sometimes, even with three additional subjects,
the same performance was observed.
Occasionally when such “failures” were observed, the failed
subject would be recalled and during the second test, the
subject would pass.
TODAY’s Adult no longer complies with Dr. Wylie’s
profile [dry weight of 165 lb. with mean height of 5’10”],
ANATOMICAL TESTING MUST BE REPEATED !!
31. DOT-CG-61241-A. The Development of a Child Sized
Personal Flotation Device dated September 1, 1989.
It has been noted that the younger, smaller children tend to
float in a “vee” position with their feet and sometimes their
knees and legs above the water surface.
This flotation attitude invariably results in a higher degree of
32. • Child rolling from side to side
The greater the “vee” angle, the greater the instability and
conversely, a straight body with the child’s feet below the
surface is associated with good stability.
The fact the legs come out of the water suggests excess
buoyancy of the chest pads. It is noted that the chest pads
are usually almost entirely out of the water.
The instability is related to the subject
rather than the device.
In 1995, UL received seven reports regarding children
going face down in a PFD.
August 28, 1998 NBC Dateline Segment
33. PATH FORWARD
Comprehensive anatomical study
Determining intrinsic and supplemental buoyancy
amounts on adults and non-adults with the goal of
standardizing the fit and stability of a life jacket through
congruency of the wearer’s center of gravity and center
For larger sized or obese life jacket consumers, an
engineering formula must be created to “reduce
supplemental buoyancy amounts to compensate for
increased intrinsic buoyancy.
34. A research project to identify how plus sized patterns were
created for apparel, protective clothing, rainwear,
wetsuits, drysuits and rashguards for adults, teens, and
Sizing beyond chest size ranges created to correlate with
Women’s and Kids/Teens Plus size clothing or King sized