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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

I have an inflatable jacket with built in harness, crotch strap and spray hood, that I wear when appropriate. I think it’s up to the individual to determine what their risk tolerance is and what is appropriate for them. There are however, a couple of things that I’d like to put out there for discussion:

How many of us have actually tried out our inflatable jackets? When I tried mine I was surprised at how much it “got in the way” – enough that I bought the adaptor to convert it from automatic to manual. I am a strong swimmer and I wanted the option to swim/climb first with the minimum of restriction and then inflate the jacket if needed. I have no evidence to back this up but I feel that, at least for me, I am more at risk from a restricted ability to self-rescue than the risk of being unconscious and not being able to inflate the life jacket. Ironically it appears that the better the life jacket, the more restrictive it is.

Crotch straps and spray hood are proven lifesavers yet I still see a lot of jackets that are sold (and presumably worn) without them. If you are in a situation where you might have to rely on your life jacket to save your life, why wouldn’t you maximize your odds of survival by having a crotch strap and spray hood?

I’m interested what others think.
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