Army Corps introduce "auto-inflatable life jackets"

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LAKE TEXOMA-The 4th of July is just around the corner and the rush to Lake Texoma has already started. Lake officials said if you're headed out on the water, you must have a life jacket. Now, there's a new type of flotation device on the market and our own Victoria Maranan tested it out Friday morning.
The water was a great 75 to 80 degrees, perfect for this 100 degree weather. I honestly didn't know what to expect with these new auto-inflatable life jackets. So, I had to try it out myself and true to it's name, this life jacket inflates on its own as soon as you hit the water!
When Stephen Crossland goes fishing, he gets some stares, even some questions,about his life jacket.

"I wear the inflatable ones, if I'm by myself, I'll wear the inflatable ones. If there's more than one person in the boat, I'll wear it to drive in and then I'll take it off when I start fishing," he said.

He said the auto-inflatable life jackets are more comfortable to wear.

"The others are just so big, bulky and hot. I mean the inflatables give you more room to move and stuff," he said.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' B.J. Parkey said auto-inflatable life jackets only hang around your neck and can be secured around your waist, keeping you cool, especially when it's over 100 degrees outside.

"As far as weight wise, lighter weight, it's more comfortable to wear. And when you actually only do fall in the water with this life jacket, these auto-inflatables, there's gonna be a few second pause and actually it will balloon up," he said.

These auto-inflatable life jackets have a pressure sensor that determines whether or not it should deploy and it may take one to two seconds before it inflates. And if it doesn't inflate, Parkey said there's a backup.

"If it doesn't deploy, you'll be able to pull on this string, which will trigger a key mechanism in here and will automatically inflate the CO2 cartridge," he said.

But he says these life jackets are not for everybody.

"These life jackets right here are not designed for if you're actually planning on jumping in the water and recreating in the water. This is for your boat user, boat captain or individuals in the boat that's not planning to get into the water," he said.

Once the auto-inflatable deploys, Parkey said you have to deflate it manually and install a new CO2 cartridge.

The auto-inflatable life jacket runs up to $200 each, but Crossland said he likes the added safety and doesn't mind the price.

"No, I chose the more expensive one because of the comfort," he said.

Parkey said these auto-inflatables are only suitable for kids over 16 years old, those under that age are required to wear a regular life jacket when they are out on a boat.
You can get both types of lifejackets at any sports retail stores.

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