During World War II, life vests were an essential piece of equipment for service men in all branches of the military. They were called “Mae Wests” after the famous Hollywood actress who had a similar figure to the inflated vests.
The Mae West life vest was designed to be worn over the head like a jacket and inflated using a cord that was attached to a CO2 canister. In addition to keeping the wearer afloat, the vest also had pockets to hold survival equipment such as a signaling mirror and a water bottle.
While the Mae West life vest was effective, it was not without its drawbacks. The vest was bulky and restrictive, making it difficult for the wearer to move, swim, or shoot their weapon. It was also not very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, which was a common experience for service men serving on ships or in other maritime environments.
Despite these challenges, the Mae West life vest was a critical piece of equipment for service men during World War II. As the war progressed, improvements were made to the design of the life vest, making it lighter, more comfortable, and more practical for use in combat.
Today, life vests are still a necessary safety item for anyone engaged in boating or other water activities. While they may look different from the Mae West life vest of World War II, the purpose remains the same: to help keep people safe in the water.