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What are Life Rafts?

11/15/2013 8:01:42 AM | by Anonymous

Liferafts

A life raft is a type of safety device that is used to transport people away from a dangerous or sinking ship during an emergency. Life rafts are also sometimes referred to as life boats. Life rafts are usually collapsible meaning that they are able to be stored in smaller places and be quickly assembled and ready to use in an emergency. When stored in the collapsed state, the life rafts have to be checked regularly and be ensured that they are in good working condition.


A life boat on the other hand is not usually collapsible and is in its solid state. This means that passengers are able to quickly get on the life boats without having to wait for it to be assembled, but the downside is that it takes up more space and thus less life boats can be fitted on the ship. When the passengers come on board the boat, they should be very clear on where all the life rafts are. Most of the times, passengers are assigned to a specific life raft. This minimizes confusion and ensures that all the passengers get to safety during an emergency. The use of life rafts are not limited to emergencies such as sinking only, if the boat was on fire, the life raft may be used to get away from the ship as well.


Most of the life rafts available are highly inflatable, and are made from strong durable materials with auto-inflation canisters that are activated manually. When these canisters are activated, a gas, either nitrogen or carbon dioxide, is usually filled into the life rafts to inflate it. These devices are used to quickly inflate the life rafts as there is no time to manually do so in an emergency, as a few seconds may determine if the passengers live or die. This is why it is so important that the life rafts are quickly inflated and ready to use as soon as possible so that the passengers are able to get away from the ship quickly.


Apart from being transportation devices, many life rafts are also designed to be survival devices to provide the user’s with some sort of shelter. For example, the life raft may have a small roof to protect the passengers from the hot sun or rain. Life rafts may also have location transponders or homing beacons that are used to help rescuers find the life rafts more easily.


Life rafts may also contain special compartments that contain water, food, weather sheets, oars, and mirrors to be used for signaling, flares and even fishing equipment. These life rafts have so many special compartments to store all these objects as the life rafts may be out in the ocean for a significant period of time before they are found and rescued due to the size of the ocean. Thus, these tools are used to help the passengers survive as long as possible before rescue comes. In other cases, some life rafts also have tools that enable the passengers to rescue themselves. For example the life raft may come with engines, sails and other navigational equipment.


The use of such life boats and life rafts became more widely used and strictly implemented after the large ocean liner RMS Titanic sank. Before the incident however, most ships did not have enough life boats and life rafts for all the passengers, this was the case for the RMS Titanic as well. After the incident however, people learnt their lesson and ships had to carry enough life rafts and implement other safety procedures. Thus, life rafts are extremely important and it is good to know that we will be safe in case the ship were to sink thanks to life rafts.

 

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