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Definition: swimming aids <-> Lifejackets

The labeling is done in pictograms, with the figure shown indicating the buoyancy in Newtons. The rule is: the higher the number, the more protection the safety equipment offers.

Swimming aids offer only a limited lift and are intended for users who are still conscious. Unsuitable for children under 30 kg!

Life jackets also ensure that a user who is not completely conscious or even unconscious attains a secure position. The person is rotated by the buoyancy of the device onto his or her back, so that the head is held securely over the surface of the water.

CE classes for lifejackets

50 N buoyancy aids

  • Only for good swimmers

  • Use only in sheltered waters where quick help and rescue is guaranteed

  • Provides only limited protection against drowning

  • Unsuitable for troubled waters

  • No lifejacket

100 N lifejacket

  • For swimmers

  • Use only in sheltered waters

  • Intended for people who have to wait in sheltered waters for rescue

  • Into the safe position in 10 seconds; safe even if unconscious

150 N lifejacket

  • For swimmers and non-swimmers

  • Intended for general use

  • An unconscious person is turned into safe floating position

  • Safe even if unconscious

275 N lifejacket

  • For swimmers and non-swimmers

  • Primary use on the high seas and in severe conditions

  • Additional lift for additional weight or for protective clothing with integrated buoyancy

  • Safe even if unconscious

Reference values ​​for the survival of people in the water

Water temperature
<3 °C   
4.5 °C    
10 °C    
15 °C    
21 °C    
26 °C    

Time until unconscious
< 15 min    
30 minutes  
1 h     
2 h      
7 h      
12 hours     

Possible survival
bis 45 min
bis 90 min
3 h
6 h
40 h
> 40 h


SAR Manual search and rescue aircraft
Published by the SAR Coordinating Committee, as of January 1997

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