Life Rafts 101: What is a Life Raft?


Asking the internet for answers on different things is great, but if you are a seasoned ferry operator, fisherman, or seafarer; life rafts are something that is second nature to you. The internet will not be able to replace your experience and knowledge, but for those who want to know more about life rafts and some regulations that are present with life rafts this article will be helpful. We know that there are chances that new boat owners can become overwhelmed with the abundance of choices and varieties of life rafts available. It’s important to know the basics before buying a life raft for your boat and/or ship so here we breakdown the different regulations and features of a life raft.


Life Raft Definition

One of our favorite definition search engines, states this; “a raft, often inflatable, for use in emergencies, as when a ship must be abandoned or when a plane is downed at sea”. If you’ve seen a cruise ship or a large scale ship, you might have seen what looks to be life rafts, but they’re more likely lifeboats. Life rafts are usually stored in a collapsed state in a fiberglass container if they are mounted on the deck, but they can also be stored in a soft and flexible container for below deck storage. Life rafts are also designed to be launched with clean and odorless gas that assists in quick inflation of the raft.


Life Raft Requirements

Life rafts offer a short term of protection from the elements with minimal survival equipment and the launching and inflation of a life raft are meant to be efficient and quick. Here’s a tip, we give you the “how-to”; watch this video of how to launch a life raft to become a comfortable and competent life raft launcher. The overall general requirements for life rafts are to be able to offer protection for 30 days and stay afloat in any sea state, be launched from a height of 18m and still be in operating condition, and also be durable, resisting repeated jumps from a height of at least 4.5m above the bottom (jumps from people boarding into the life raft). The life rafts should have a cover to protect the occupants against the elements of the sea, life rafts approved by the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) are required to have space for a minimum of 6 occupants.


Life Raft Categories


There are two major categories of life rafts, one for recreational use; the other for commercial use, and they both provide the same goal and purpose, it’s a safety equipment meant to provide emergency rescue and transportation away from a vessel that is uninhabitable and/or destroyed in an unfortunate event. Your life rafts should always be regularly inspected by a coast guard certified service facility to ensure it will be ready to perform when called on during an emergency. Life Rafts and Survival Equipment offers servicing and repairs for life rafts abiding to Coast Guard’s regulations.




Life Raft 101: Guide to Life Raft Types

Multiple factors should be considered before buying a quality and reliable life raft, check out this article "Life Raft 101: Guide to Life Raft Types" for highlights of a couple rafts available on and it will provide you with some guidance on choosing the right raft for your vessel and purpose!


Talk to LRSE

Life Raft and Survival Equipment has been servicing and supplying major brands of life rafts, inflatable boats, and safety equipment to the public for over 30 years. We invite you to call us at 1-800 451-2127 or visit our state of art, modern service facility in Tiverton, Rhode Island!

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