Boat Emergency Product Born From Life-or-Death Situation

By Rich Armstrong

Two fathers who nearly drowned with their kids after their boat sank turn the near tragedy into a life-saving new product.

Boaters in the water after sinkingThe new product Life Cell could provide salvation for boaters after a sinking.

Consider the well-worn proverb "Necessity is the mother of invention" when assessing the Life Cell, a new emergency ditchbag kit from Australian manufacturer Life Cell Marine Safety.

In December 2011, buddies Scott Smiles and Rick Matthews were fishing with their 11-year-old sons aboard a 40-foot powerboat about 6 miles offshore of Sydney, Australia, when a fire erupted and quickly sank the boat.

Given the catastrophic speed of the sinking, the four found themselves clinging to a floating cooler to keep their heads above water.

Take a look at the news report by Sky News in Australia of the dramatic rescue of the families.

Safe and sound, Smiles and Matthews got to brainstorming. From their own experiences, they knew safety equipment is often stored under seats, in gunwales, or under bunks, making it difficult to locate in a time of emergency.

Their idea for a remedy is called Life Cell, which combines all of this essential safety equipment in a floating ditchbag. If you do end up in the water, Life Cell will not only keep you afloat, but it will keep everybody together with handles all around the floating product, and provides a stable platform from which to operate your safety equipment at the appropriate time. The kit (there are four models to choose from) can hold flares, a flare gun, an EPIRB, signal flag, whistle, air horn, flashlight, and more. Contents are not included with the case.

Life Cell emergency kitLife Cell can hold essential safety gear in its watertight kit.

SOLAS-approved Life Cell is available in high-visibility orange or white and, depending on the model, costs between $279 and $439. 

— Published: May 2017


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