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"Lifejackets save lives"

Correctly maintained, worn and fit for purpose Lifejackets and Buoyancy Aids should be worn at all times when at sea

One of the MCA's current three year safety themes is a Lifejacket Awareness Campaign

We aim to work with our partner organisations, including the RNLI and the RYA, to promote the carriage and wear of lifejackets within the leisure sector.




Watch the new MCA Lifejacket Video


The Evidence

On 4th July 2008 an expert panel review, comprising of staff from the RYA, RNLI, MAIB, and representatives from industry and academia, was convened to analyse fatal maritime incidents in 2007 and assess whether a lifejacket would have made a difference in saving a person’s life.

After reviewing each incident, the panel had to choose whether it was Probably, Possibly or Unlikely that the person would have been saved by wearing a lifejacket that was suitably maintained, correctly worn and fit for purpose, or alternatively, that it was Not Appropriate for the person to have been wearing a lifejacket in the particular incident under review.

From a total of 133 fatalities, 91 were deemed as Not Appropriate for the casualty to be wearing a lifejacket. These deaths covered recreational activities such as Diving and Coastal Walking where there is no call for the participant to wear a lifejacket, and other ‘misadventures’ where a person ended up drowning despite not taking part in any maritime activity.

Of the remaining 42 fatalities it was agreed that in 29 cases (69%) a lifejacket would have had a more positive outcome, either possibly or probably saving a person’s life.


On 18th May 2009 the panel reconvened to analyse 2008's fatal maritime incidents in the same way.

Due to some reporting issues and bad summer weather there were less deaths than the previous year, but the proportion of those where the casualty should have been wearing a lifejacket remained the same. From a total of 93 fatalities, 62 were deemed as Not Appropriate for the casualty to be wearing a lifejacket.

Of the remaining 31 fatalities it was agreed that in 26 cases (84%) a lifejacket would have had a more positive outcome, either possibly or probably saving a person's life.


The proportion of people that could have been saved by wearing a lifejacket has risen, underlining the importance of wearing one when on or near the water.

To watch the MCA Podcast about Lifejackets, click here.


The Campaign

The MCA, in conjunction with the RNLI and RYA, have produced stickers for boat owners to use as a reminder to wear their lifejackets.

                     Useless                      Stowed


For copies of this sticker call 0845 6032431 and quote publication number MCA/204 or MCA/205.


The MCA have run a stage show, in conjunction with the RNLI and RYA, at the Southampton and London Boatshows highlighting the benefits of wearing a lifejacket.

At the RoSPA National Water Safety Congress in November we will also host a Lifejacket Workshop and practical demo to reinforce the message.

We have started a Behavioural Change Research Project to investigate the reasons why people do not wear lifejackets and we will actively work to energise the manufacturers of Lifejackets to make positive changes to improve lifejacket design.


Our Partners

For more information on what to look for when buying a lifejacket, please visit the National Water Safety Forum website.

Click here for more information on lifejackets from the RNLI

Click here for more information on lifejackets from the RYA



For more information about any aspect of the MCA's Lifejacket Campaign contact Richard Jackson or Joanne Groenenberg.