The world of Boating

We Must Know About The Retro-Reflective Material For Lifesaving Equipment

Sometimes we think that we are safe when we buy lifesaving equipments, but not all of them are approved by the International Marine Organization, we, the boat owners must make sure that the equipment we purchase for our boat meets the criteria.  It is better be safe and sometimes pay a little more for the approved equipments.

I hope the following information is useful for our boating community.

APPROVAL CATEGORY:  164.018

APPROVAL GUIDANCE & INFORMATION:  Retro-reflective material for lifesaving appliances is approved by the Coast Guard under Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart 164.018 for non SOLAS application.  For use in SOLAS applications the Coast Guard approves Retro-reflective material for lifesaving appliances under the technical requirements in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Resolution A.658(16) Annex 2 in addition the requirements of 46 CFR 164.018.  Review IMO Resolution A.658(16) Annex 1 for how retro-reflective material should be arranged on lifesaving equipment.

APPROVED LABORATORIES:  None.

1. Retro-reflective materials should be fitted on top of the gunwale as well as on the outside of the boat as near the gunwale as possible. The materials should be sufficiently wide and long to give a minimum area of 150 cm2 and should be spaced at suitable intervals (approximately 80 cm from centre to centre). If a canopy is fitted, it should not be allowed to obscure the materials fitted on the outside of the boat, and the top of the canopy should be fitted with retro-reflective materials similar to those mentioned above and spaced at suitable intervals (approximately 80 cm centre to centre). In the case of partially enclosed or totally enclosed lifeboats, such materials should be placed as follows:

A. for detection by horizontal light beams – at suitable intervals at half the height between the gunwale and the top of the fixed cover; and

B. for detection by vertical light beams (e.g. from helicopters) – at suitable intervals around the outer portion of the horizontal (or comparable) part of the top of the fixed cover;

C. retro-reflective materials should also be fitted on the bottom of lifeboats and rescue boats which are not self-righting.

2. LIFERAFTS

Retro-reflective materials should be fitted around the canopy of the liferaft. The material should be sufficiently wide and long to give a minimum area of 150 cm2 and should be spaced at suitable intervals (approximately 80 cm from centre to centre) at a suitable height above the waterline, doorways included, if suitable. On inflatable liferafts, retro-reflective materials should also be fitted to the underside of the floor, cross-shaped in the centre. The dimension of the cross should be half the diameter of the liferaft, and a similar cross should be applied to the top of the canopy.
On liferafts which are not equipped with canopies, materials which should be sufficiently wide and long (to give a minimum area of 150 cm2) should be attached to the buoyancy chamber at suitable intervals (approximately 80 cm from centre to centre) in such a manner that they are visible both from the air and from a ship.

3. LIFEBUOYS

Retro-reflective materials of a sufficient width (approximately 5 cm) should be applied around or on both sides of the body of the lifebuoy at four evenly-spaced points.

4. BUOYANT APPARATUS

Buoyant apparatus should be fitted with retro-reflective materials in the same manner as liferafts without canopies, always depending on the size and shape of the object. Such materials should be visible both from the air and from a ship.     (No illustration in IMO Resolution A.658(16))

Note that the arrangement described applies to inflatable buoyant apparatus. It is different than illustrated in 46 CFR 160.010 (Figure 160.010-3(p)) for rigid buoyant apparatus and life floats. It is not required to change the retroreflective material arrangement on rigid buoyant apparatus and life floats unless the vessel is certificated under SOLAS for international voyages.
5. LIFEJACKETS

Lifejackets should be fitted with patches of retro-reflective materials with a total area of at least 400 cm2 distributed so as to be useful for search from air and surface craft from all directions. In the case of a reversible lifejacket, the arrangement should be complied with no matter which way the lifejacket is put on. Such material should be placed as high up on the lifejacket as possible.

6. IMMERSION SUITS

Immersion suits should be fitted with patches of retro-reflective material with a total area of at least 400 cm2 distributed so as to be useful for search from air and surface craft from all directions.
For an immersion suit that does not automatically turn the wearer face up, the back of the suit should be fitted with retro-reflective material with a total area of at least 100 cm2.

Retroreflective material arrangements applied by the manufacturer on approved immersion suits have been reviewed and approved and should not be changed, even if the arrangement does not appear to be exactly the same as this illustration.

7. GENERAL REMARKS

1. Retro-reflective materials should be such as will meet the minimum technical specification given in Annex 2.

2. The illustrations reproduced in this Annex are intended to provide examples from which guidance may be taken when fitting retro-reflective materials in accordance with these guidelines.

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