How to Launch Life Raft: Survival at Sea Emergency Situations

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:Introduction

Ever wondered what to do in case your shop encounters a stormy surprise? Don’t worry because you’ll learn a life-saving skill – how to launch a life raft in emergencies. We’re talking about those inflatable boats that will keep you afloat when things get worse out there.

1.1 Importance of knowing how to launch a life raft

Imagine this: you’re on a ship sailing along and minding your own business, then suddenly, bam! A heavy storm strikes and your ship starts dancing on water like no one’s watching. This is where you need to apply your knowledge of launching a raft.

It’s like having a savior standby- such emergencies are unpredictable, but you can be sure to face them head-on!

1.2 Overview of the step-by-step guide

First, we’ll prepare you to master and confidently face sea emergencies. Then we’ll get to the launching options – grant launching by Davit, manual throw, and auto release. We’ll also check out the must-know liferaft requirements and safety measures.

Chapter 2:Preparing for Launch

2.1 Assessing the emergency situation

So, you find yourself in a stormy sea with crashing waves and have to save the day. The first thing you are going to do is assess the emergency situation. Check if your ship is waving the white flag of distress.

Are you in a bumpy sail that requires knowledge of how to launch an inflatable life raft? Take a moment to gather your thoughts and decide if it’s time to launch your life-saving equipment – a life raft.

2.2 Ensuring personal safety and communication

Grab your life jacket and ensure it’s snug and confirm if your ship’s radio is still belting out tunes. Use it to let others know you’re in trouble. You can also wave hello to the flares (those fiery sticks on the SOS) and light them up if you’re the one calling for help.

If you have a shiny mirror nearby, flash some light to signal those on the high seas. But don’t launch your craft first. Wear your safety boots and your problem-solving hat.

Chapter 3:Three Different Methods to Launch Liferaft

Now that you are all geared up to release the liferaft, there are three ways of doing it. Let’s see when to use each and the correct liferaft launching procedure.

3.1 Auto release with Hydrostatic Release Unit (HRU)

Hydrostatic Release Unit (HRU)

Among the many things that make a life raft easy to launch in an emergency is an HRU. So, this is how it works:

The HRU connects your life raft container to the ship’s deck. So when the ship sinks, the water pressure increases, and the HRU springs into action. Its sharp knives or chisels will snip the snaps holding your life raft while the lifeline remains attached.

It works through quick-release lashing so that when a ship takes a plunge, the HRU cuts the rope while the container remains afloat. As the ship continues sinking, the tension pulls the lifeline to inflate our life raft and prevents us from sinking.

3.2 Manually launching- throw it into the water

Aviation Life Raft

This method is reliable, especially when you have a team, because it requires some muscle power. To manually launch a life raft,

  • Secure the lifeline (that’s the liferaft’s painter) to a ship’s stern deck.
  • Remove the container from the liferaft to clear the path – no obstacles in the site
  • Team up and grab the life raft container on both sides, then throw it in the water
  • Hold tightly to the painter so that your life raft doesn’t drift away.

3.3 Launching by Davit

This is how to launch a life raft by Davit:

  • Untie the liferaft container from the HRU with a bottle screw or manually with a slip hook
  • Fasten one end of the lifeline to your deck’s nearest strong point
  • Position the container, hook up the Davit, and let it dangle as if it’s about to plunge.
  • Tag the painter to inflate your liferaft
  • Climb on board, but don’t forget to leave those sharp objects (shoes and knives) to stay on the ship
Life Raft
  • Confirm that everyone is on board, and release any lines securing your raft to free the ship.
  • Let someone inside the raft release the davit hook when your liferaft is just about to hit the water’s surface.
  • Afterward, the davit operator can join the raft by sea leaps or boarding through other means.
  • Finally, cut that painter, and you’ll start sailing.

Keep your life jacket on because next, we would like to see if our liferaft meets all the requirements and the number of people it can carry.

Chapter 4:Important Requirements for Liferafts and Carrying Capacity

4.1 Liferaft certification and compliance standards

When it comes to our liferaft’s safety, we want to ensure that it meets all the ISO standards with top-notch safety gear. These are the life raft ISO certification requirements you need to check before going on board:

  • Does it have measures to prevent accidental releases?
  • Equipped with first-aid and firefighting readiness?
  • Any features for easy spotting in the sea? Check!

SOLAS (that’s Safety of Life at Sea) has some liferaft rules. For instance, each one must have its lifeline permanently attached to the ship. Liferafts also need to be stowed so that you can release them one at a time.

Supposing the ship takes a plunge, our liferafts should automatically inflate like a sea balloon. The davit-launched liferafts should always be within arm’s reach of lifting hooks.

4.2 Understanding the liferaft's carrying capacity

Let’s unravel the weight requirements: Our chosen liferaft should withstand the weight of guys jumping on it from 4.5 meters above. It should also fit at least six of us without its maximum weight tipping beyond 185 kilos.  

Chapter 5:Safety Features on a Liferaft

So, what are our main life raft safety features?

5.1 Buoyancy and stability features


First, we have the pressure relief valve to provide fresh air when things get tough, while the stabilizing pocket prevents our liferaft from capsizing. The insulating canopy with two layers, trapping air in between them to protect you from chilly winds and the scorching sun.

5.2 Survival equipment and provisions

A well-equipped liferaft should have the following:

  • Can openers pop open cans and a mini fishing kit
  • Seasickness bags and anti-seasick tablets
  • Food and water rations
  • First aid kit with supplies to patch up bruises and bumps
  • Paddles and sea anchor, just in case you want to steer your way to safety
  • Flashing lights and batteries to shine the light for at least 12 hours to help us navigate at night
  • Repair kit with glues and patches to fix things up
  • Thermal protective aids to keep us warm
  • Signal mirror and whistle to help us reach potential rescuers


Remember that each liferaft has unique safety goodies to keep you equipped for whatever the sea throws your way.

Chapter 6:Conclusion

Knowing how to launch a life raft is crucial, especially when you are sailing in case of an emergency. Continually assess the emergency, ensure your safety comes first, and communicate before launching. Whether using the HRU, manually launching, or using the Davit method, consider its carrying capacity to prevent more tragedy.

Check with your captain if the liferaft meets all the requirements and safety features. Don’t compromise on safety. You can use the safety requirements and provisions checklist to ensure everything is on board. This way, you can prepare for anything as you enjoy your voyage.