Staying safe means staying sharp

Your liferaft is an essential part of your on board safety equipment and it is important to know exactly how to operate it in the case of an emergency. Meanwhile, since it is (fortunately) not a piece of equipment for use on every trip, it may be beneficial to take time to refresh your liferaft knowledge.

We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions, dos and don’ts related to our liferafts. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, please consult the liferaft manual or contact your local VIKING branch or representative.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)


Q: How do I deploy the liferaft?

A: The liferaft is easy to deploy and inflates in seconds if you follow these simple steps:

  • Fasten the painter line (red line coming out of the liferaft - approx. 30 ft/10 m long) to a strong point on the boat - preferably a cleat
  • To ease throwing the liferaft overboard first pull out approx. 10 ft./3m of painter line
  • No need to open valise or remove plastic strapping on container prior to deployment
  • Liferafts are naturally buoyant and will not sink
  • Do not deploy the liferaft on deck
  • Deploy liferaft to leeward. Use vessel to protect the liferaft from wind and waves. Unless the vessel is on fire, then launch to windward
  • Pull liferaft toward the vessel with the painter line.
  • Jump directly from vessel into liferaft (if possible). Try to stay dry
  • Pull out painter line and stay attached to vessel unless sinking or on fireIf you need to cut the painter line, there is a knife attached to the upper buoyancy tube right hand side of the canopy entrance
  • Use signal flares only when help is in sight
  • The manual included with the liferaft contains detailed step-by-step emergency instructions. Read prior to departing.

Do's and don’ts

  • Do not cut the white plastic bands that hold the container together (they will burst open upon deployment)
  • Do not stand or sit on the container
  • Do not store the valise upon deck exposed to the elements
  • When mounting vertically, mount the container with red painter line facing down to prevent water seepage from rain water
  • Do confirm that the drainage plugs on your container are open depending on installation
    • For deck mount remove bottom drainage plugs
    • For vertical rail mount remove drain plugs
    • From painter end
  • Do tighten the black textile strap holding the container in the cradle prior to leaving port
  • Do not deploy the liferaft on the deck as it may become damaged
  • Deployment - make sure to secure the red painter line to a strong point onboard the vessel prior to throwing the liferaft container/valise overboard

Q: What are the bags beneath the liferaft?

A: The liferaft has four 55 l quick filling, weighted ballast bags attached beneath, providing maximum stability and preventing capsizing in heavy seas. The oversized openings around the top and the sewn in weights allow the bags to fill quickly creating immediate stability.


Q: If I deploy my liferaft, can it be repacked?

A: If the liferaft has been deployed in an actual rescue situation, search and rescue does not retrieve the liferaft, they only pick up survivors. If you deploy a liferaft accidently, it is possible to repack it at an authorized servicing facility.


Q: If we are only two people in an 8-person liferaft, will it flip over?

A: No. The ballast bags and sea anchor provide stability.


Q: Does the liferaft inflate automatically?

A: The liferaft inflates within seconds once the 10m/30 ft. red painter line is pulled and the CO2 in the cylinder is released into the air chambers.


Q: Will the inflatable floor inflate automatically?

A: The inflatable double floors must be manually inflated with bellows provided in the equipment bag. Inflatable floors do not automatically inflate because they do not have pressure relief valves installed as the release of CO2 adversely affects some people and the floors are under a different working pressure than the buoyancy tubes.


Q: Will the canopy inflate automatically?

A: All VIKING liferaft canopies automatically inflate upon deployment.


Q: What if the liferaft sustains tear damage or a puncture during a rescue situation?

A: The liferaft contains three red leak stoppers, which instantly plug a hole permitting you to re-inflate the liferaft via the inflation valves. In addition, there is a repair kit containing patch materials, glue and scissors for repairing tears. If the hole is in one of the buoyancy tubes remember all VIKING liferafts are built to the SOLAS standard requiring each tube supports the weight the liferaft is approved for. So even with one buoyancy tube deflated, the liferaft will continue to support the occupants.


Q: How long will the liferaft last? How long can I survive?

A: The liferaft will last a minimum of 30 days at sea. Survival of occupants depends on the amount of water, capability to fish or rations in the emergency pack.


Q: Why do liferafts only allow small space per person?

A: SOLAS requirement is 4 sq ft/0.372 m2 per person in order to share body warmth for protection from hypothermia and to protect you from injury during heavy seas.


Q: Can I add additional equipment?

A: You may upgrade your emergency pack to include a limited amount of additional equipment either within or externally in a grab bag. Additional fee may apply.


Q: Where is the best place to mount a container?

A: The liferaft must be accessible for deployment within 60 seconds. It is best to deck mount as close to the center of the boat as possible. If deck mounting, it is best to install the liferaft behind the mast for protection from seas.

Q: What comes with the liferaft?

A: The standard equipment is sea anchor, buoyant knife, rescue quoit and paddles and an emergency pack. All emergency packs include SOLAS parachute rockets, SOLAS hand flares, SOLAS flashlight with extra batteries and bulb, whistle, USCG/ SOLAS signaling mirror, anti-seasickness pills, bailer, sponges, survival instructions, table of lifesaving signals, bellows, leak stoppers. Additional equipment is included depending on local regulations or requirements.


Q: What items in the emergency kit may expire and need replacement?

A: Flares, drinking water, rations, first aid kit, glue in the repair kit, anti-seasickness pills, flash light batteries and batteries for interior and exterior lights.


Q: May we stand or sit on the liferaft container or valise?

A: It is NOT recommended as it may cause damage to equipment contained within.


Q: How does the sea anchor work?

A: The extra-large sea anchor slows the liferaft when surfing down a wave preventing capsizing and minimizing drift.


Q: Why does the sea anchor not automatically deploy?

A: The sea anchor is manually deployed allowing survivors to quickly paddle to safety should the vessel be on fire or to clear debris.


Q: Does the liferaft inflate when it comes in contact with water?

A: No. The liferaft must be deployed by throwing it overboard and pulling the red painter line or via an automatic hydrostatic release upon the vessel sinking.


Q: What is the difference between ISO1 and ISO2?

A: ISO1 is offshore/open ocean - rescue beyond 24 hours. ISO2 is near shore - rescue within 24 hours. An offshore liferaft has an insulated floor for hypothermia protection, an ISO2 liferaft does not. An ISO1 liferaft requires minimum 0.4 m2 per person interior room - an ISO2 requires 0.25 m2. An ISO1 liferaft will contain more lifesaving equipment than an ISO2 liferaft. An ISO1 liferaft inflates in -15˚ to 65˚ C. An ISO2 liferaft only inflates from 0˚ to 65˚ C.


Q: How do I turn the lights off during daylight?

A: The interior light and exterior strobe light will automatically activate upon deployment. To turn the lights off during the day insert the pin into the slot in the battery pack on the arch tube.


Q: How does a hydrostatic release (HRU) work?

A: The hydrostatic release unit is pressure activated and will automatically deploy the liferaft when it reaches a depth of 1.5-4 meters. It automatically releases the liferaft container from the cradle via the weak link once the liferaft inflates.


Q: What if the liferaft inflates upside down?

A: If the liferafts inflates upside down, you must jump into the water, turn the liferaft into the wind, climb up onto the cylinder, and grab the righting strap on the bottom of the liferaft and lean back. Or purchase a RescYou™ Pro liferaft which automatically rights within seconds.


Q: How often does the liferaft have to be serviced?

A: VIKING recommends 3-year service intervals in order to extend the lifetime of the liferaft and ensure it is in perfect working order.


Q: How much does service cost?

A: Service costs vary from country to country. Please contact your local authorized facility for pricing.


Q: Where can I get the liferaft serviced?

A: VIKING has a global network of more than 260 authorized servicing facilities.