How to Buy an Inflatable Life Raft?

A life raft is a necessary equipment on board ships, yachts, or boats from marine safety point of view. An inflatable life raft, as the name suggests, is a form of life raft which allows people to fold and store it when not in use, or inflate it at the time of an emergency. Moreover, life rafts or similar form of safety equipment are mandatory on board sea bound vessels (except small sized recreational vessels) . In this article, we will look over the important points that need to be considered when buying an inflatable life raft.

There are several factors that one needs to consider while buying inflatable life rafts. These factors need to be strictly complied with as any flaw would result in possible risks to human lives.

Inflatable Life Raft

The factors and requirements can be enumerated as follows:

Operational Distance

The very first thing that needs to be considered before buying a raft is about the operational distance of the ship. Based on the operational distance, there are three types of life rafts that are available for sale – SOLAS A, SOLAS B and COASTAL. The approval of the Coast Guard is also very important while considering a life raft for sale.

On the contrary, for those boats where having life rafts is not mandatory but is the personal choice of the boat owner, the life rafts should comply with either SOLAS standards or ORC standards (Offshore Racing Council) or RORC standards (Royal Ocean Racing Club). Boat operators in the US need to have raft compliance of the USCG.


The cost is the second-most important aspect that potential life raft users need to consider. Like any other equipment, life rafts also come under various brands and price tags. It is the user’s choice to choose a particular inflatable raft brand without compromising on any of the features and one which fits his or her budget.


The material of the raft also matters a lot in terms of marine safety offered. The materials that are very commonly used are rubber and PVC (polyvinylchloride). Each material requires a different kind of pasting and attaching. The potential user, while considering a life raft for sale needs to make sure that the pasting and the attaching of the materials is carried out properly so that no problem is caused when the raft is being to actual use.

Inflatable Life Raft

Of all the available raft materials, the most popular material is PVC because it offers the maximum feasibility and viability with respect to its cost.

Size and Capacity

The sizing of the life raft is another very important factor that needs to be considered and which actually depends on the size of the ship or boat. Since life rafts are deployed in order to ensure that lives are not lost, it becomes imperative that the capacitance of the life rafts are more than adequate and provide ample space to the people getting aboard it.

Equipment Packs for Survival (SEP)

Equipment Packs for Survival (SEP) are those equipments that are stored in the raft and used during emergencies. Some of these equipments include torches, first aid provisions, devices for signalling and medicines. The least expensive rafts will have a considerable dearth of the necessary SEPs, requiring the user to equip the raft appropriately.

Equipment for Survival

Apart from checking the aforementioned pointers, periodic checking and monitoring of the inflatable life raft is required to be carried out on a regular basis. Through proper checking and monitoring of all the components of the marine safety gadget it is ensured that there is no deterioration and in case of any, repairing is carried out without any delay.

By paying proper attention to these specified stipulations, a ship user can be assured of prompt life-saving at really crucial junctures.




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  1. Please help: Must a private sailing or powerboat yacht of say 46ft get USCG approval and must the life raft be USCG approved. My understanding is the personal yachts & rafts are not regulated, IS THAT TRUE
    If so can I supply a ISO 9650 type 1 & 2 service pack to be serviced every 3 years and will that be acceptable in the USA
    Regards and thank you

  2. @ Stephen: Please try this link for your answer-

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