Competition calls for innovative life jacket designs

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November 9, 2010

Here at, we are big proponents of safety in the workplace and often times for us professional mariners, that means reporting on technologies that are going to keep us alive should any of us hit the water.  We are always on the lookout for new and interesting items like PLB’s, man overboard alert devices, fast rescue or lifeboats and, of course, life jackets.

That is why we were very excited to hear about the Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition hosted by the Boat U.S. Foundation.  The goal of the competition is to “encourage and solicit innovative ideas and new technology to design a life jacket that the majority of average boaters might wear.”  The Boat U.S. website tells us:

Each year drownings account for 70% or more of all boating fatalities. Of the people who drown, over 80% were not wearing a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard has estimated that over 200 lives may be saved each year if people wore their life jacket.

Studies conducted by the BoatUS Foundation indicate that lack of comfort is the number one reason why life jackets are not worn in greater numbers. In fact, the average life jacket wear rate for boaters is generally around 20%.

The BoatUS Foundation believes that innovation and the application of new technology might entice more boaters to wear life jackets. If you are a creative thinker and have an idea for a new and innovative life jacket your ingenuity may help save lives. We don’t have any rules as to what types of materials or designs are allowable. The Foundation wants you to come up with as many new, imaginative and out-of-the-box ideas as you can.

Participants will be required to submit a 4-minute video of their invention in action and entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on wearability, reliability, cost or price point and innovation.  Winners of the competition will get to take home the $5,000 grand prize which will be awarded at the 2011 International Boating and Waterways Safety Summit.

For more information about the contest visit

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