How To Choose a Liferaft

The initial cost of a liferaft can seem prohibitive to many leisure sailors. But given that most incidents occur well within view of the land, not having such a critical piece of equipment on board your yacht, fishing or motor vessel, can be a very dangerous economy.

Here we provide you with some useful tips outlining what you should consider when choosing your liferaft:

1. Buy a quality brand. Make sure you select your liferaft from a reputable manufacturer. Several budget-imported brands have disappeared in the last few years leaving the owner with no warranty and unsure of what exactly they have inside their container or valise.

2. Check out the service network. Look into whether the liferaft has an established local service network. Many customers get caught out every year when they buy a budget liferaft from a discount chandler only to find that it is imported from Europe or the Far East and only has one or two service stations in the UK. Shipping a liferaft from one end of the country to the other (and back!) is not only time consuming but will add considerable costs to your final service bill.

Compact Liferaft Container3. Consider the overall dimensions and weight. Many reputable liferaft manufacturers put grab handles on the end as well as on the top of the valise, allowing you to store the liferaft end-on in a locker. This maximises the use of limited storage space you may have on board and also reduces the reach needed to haul it out in an emergency.

4. Check the service intervals. Many people assume that all liferafts have a rolling 3-year service interval. This is not always the case. Some brands require 3 years then 2 years then every 12 months.

5. How will you deploy it? If you are choosing a container liferaft mounted outside, then securing it with a Quick Release Strap and a Hydrostatic Release Unit is essential. This simple set-up will automaticlly release the liferaft and activate the inflation cylinder should the vessel sink suddenly.

Liferaft Grab Bag6. Consider a grab bag. Keeping a grab bag close at hand is also worth considering. This can be filled with useful emergency kit such as Thermal Protective Aids, Food and Water, First Aid Kits, Torches and a Handheld VHF.

7. Look for Best Value. Above all remember that you really do PAY FOR WHAT YOU GET. If a liferaft is cheap, then it is usually cheap for the wrong reason. Try to look for best value - a quality brand at best price.

For more advice about choosing a liferaft for your vessel or details of the MCA Code of Practice requirements, contact the Safety Marine technical team on +44 (0) 2380 226300, email, or click here Liferafts & Accessories to see our range of models and accessories.


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