Swiftwater PFDs and Lifejackets

Highfloat Swiftwater PFDs and Lifejackets

Your lifejacket, buoyancy aid or Personal Flotation Device (depending on what country you come from) is the most important PPE for all swiftwater rescue situations. Ending up in the water is something that you can never rule out! The two main styles available are the vest or jacket. A vest gives you more freedom of movement but has lower flotation and is useful for kayakers. A jacket can have higher amounts of flotation and is much faster to put on when you are in a hurry, especially over a drysuit. Having a bright colour and reflective material makes sense if you end up working in a low light environment. Also a few pockets for a knife or karabiners come in useful.

So before going within 3m of the waters edge make sure that you put your life jacket on. Do all the buckles up and chinch it down nice and tight especially under the arms and at the waist.

A chest harness is also a great tool, fitted nowadays to all rescue PFDs. As with all safety equipment you need to be trained in how to use it, know what the drawbacks of the system are and then practice using it. A chest harness is not a main attachment point for high angle rescue!

A cows tail can make clipping ropes to your chest harness much quicker and easier. However make sure that the karabiner park on the front of the jacket is releasable in the event of it getting caught up in tree branches.

If you do fall in the water or have to attempt a go/tow rescue then a good jacket will give you enough flotation and freedom of movement so you can swim aggressively for the bank.

Life Jackets for victims should be jacket type with easy clipping big buckles, "one size fits all" and a different colour from rescuers.