In a press release posted yesterday, BoatUS brought to light the U.S. Coast Guard's recent decision to eliminate the current Type I-V code scheme on life jacket labels that denotes which vest are suited for certain uses. This change officially goes into effect October 22, however the current labeling system will continue to be used until a new one is designed and adopted.
"Removing type coding is simply the first step in a multi-year process, which includes designing new labels and developing new, ‘harmonized’ standards. Once that is accomplished, manufacturers will then be able to get jackets approved under the new standards. It’s at that point that we’ll see life jackets without the current type coding on their labels," said D. Scott Croft, vice president of public affairs at BoatUS. "Our friends in the life jacket manufacturing community further advise that 2017 is likely the earliest they could potentially see any new life jacket standards on production lines."
It should also be stressed that boaters will still need to abide by the current standards when using older life jackets marked with the Type I-V labeling, as they will remain legal for use and will continue to be sold. A complete list of lifejacket types and descriptions can be found here.
Life vest Design Contest
In additional effort to help change the mindset of what a life jacket must look like, The BoatUS Foundation, the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), recently kicked off a “Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition” to seek out the newest technologies and design ideas.
Running through April 15, 2015, the contest seeks entries from groups or individuals, including collegiate design programs, armchair inventors or even boat and fishing clubs. Entries may be as simple as hand-drawn theoretical designs to working prototypes and will be judged based on four criteria: wearability, reliability, cost and innovation.
For more information about the design contest and how to enter, go to BoatUS.org/design.