Choosing and Using Life Rafts for Emergency Situations

Life rafts are essential survival equipment for maritime emergencies. They are designed to provide temporary shelter and support for people who have to abandon their vessel due to emergencies such as fire, collision, or high sea levels. In order to ensure your safety during a maritime emergency, it is crucial to understand how to choose and use life rafts appropriately. This article will discuss the importance of life rafts, the factors to consider when selecting them, and some tips for using them in emergency situations.

Importance of Life Rafts

Safety in Maritime Emergencies

Life rafts play a critical role in ensuring the safety of people during a maritime emergency. They provide a safe and buoyant platform for individuals to get themselves out of the water and minimize the risk of drowning or exposure to hazardous conditions.

Compliance with Safety Regulations

Life rafts are an essential part of safety equipment required by international maritime regulations. Ensuring that your vessel is equipped with proper life rafts can help prevent penalties and ensure the protection of your crew members.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Life Rafts


Life rafts come in various sizes and capacities, ranging from single-person rafts to those that can accommodate over 20 passengers. It is essential to choose a life raft with a capacity suitable for the number of people on board your vessel.

Launch Method

Life rafts can be launched manually, automatically, or both. Manual launching requires a person to deploy the raft by hand, while automatic launching occurs when the raft inflates automatically in contact with water or at a certain depth. Consider the preferred method based on the crew’s ability and the nature of your voyage.

Quality and Features

Invest in a life raft from a reputable manufacturer with a history of producing reliable and durable products. Additional features such as an inflatable canopy, emergency supplies, and communication equipment can also be valuable additions to your life raft.

Storage and Maintenance

Ensure that you have a suitable storage location on your vessel for the life raft. Regular maintenance checks, including inspections of inflation equipment and protective materials, are important to ensure the raft’s reliability in an emergency.


While the safety of your crew should always be a top priority, you may need to consider your budget when selecting a life raft. Look for products that offer the best price while maintaining a high level of safety and quality to ensure the best value.

Tips for Using Life Rafts in Emergency Situations

Familiarize Yourself with the Life Raft

Before embarking on a voyage, ensure that all crew members are familiar with the life raft’s location, inflation, and launching methods. Regular drills can greatly improve the effectiveness of using a life raft in an emergency.

Board the Life Raft Safely

During an emergency, it is crucial to enter the life raft calmly and carefully. Help weaker crew members to board first to ensure everyone’s safety. Use lifejackets or personal flotation devices to assist those who need additional support entering the raft.

Release the Sea Anchor

A sea anchor helps to stabilize the life raft by reducing drifting and creating drag. Be sure to release the sea anchor shortly after boarding the raft.

Communicate Your Location

Use any available communication equipment, such as flares, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), or VHF radios, to signal for assistance and communicate your location with rescue teams.

Ration Supplies

Life rafts are equipped with emergency supplies such as water, food, and first aid kits. Be mindful of your consumption and ration supplies to make them last until rescue arrives.

Life rafts are an essential part of maritime safety equipment, and choosing the right one for your vessel is imperative for safeguarding yourself and your crew in emergency situations. By considering factors such as capacity, launch method, and quality, you can ensure that your life raft is reliable and effective. Additionally, following tips on using life rafts can improve the odds of successful rescue operations during maritime emergencies.

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