The life jacket, also known as a personal flotation device (PFD), is an essential piece of safety equipment for anyone who spends time on the water. It is designed to keep a person afloat in the event of an emergency, such as falling overboard or being swept away by a strong current. But when was the life jacket invented?
The earliest known form of the life jacket dates back to 1804, when French inventor M. Petit developed a “life preserver” made from cork and canvas. This design was improved upon in 1854 by British inventor James Bevin, who created a more comfortable and effective version made from cork and rubberized fabric.
In the late 19th century, several inventors began experimenting with inflatable life jackets made from rubberized fabric and air-filled bladders. The first commercially successful inflatable life jacket was patented in 1895 by American inventor Phebe Hemphill. Her design featured an inflatable bladder that could be inflated manually or automatically with compressed air.
Since then, life jackets have continued to evolve and improve in terms of comfort, safety, and convenience. Today’s modern life jackets are typically made from lightweight materials such as nylon or neoprene and feature adjustable straps for a secure fit. Many also come equipped with reflective tape for visibility in low-light conditions and whistles for signaling distress.
In short, the life jacket has come a long way since its invention over 200 years ago. It is now an essential piece of safety equipment for anyone who spends time on the water, helping to ensure their safety in case of an emergency situation.