A History of Life-Saving Devices

Drawings from the sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci from the 16th century contain primitive designs for a diving suit and lifebelt, but it wasn't until the early 19th century that recognisable life-saving devices began to appear in regular use.

The modern design of lifebuoy is also known as the Kisbee Ring, named for Lieutenant Thomas Kisbee of the Royal Navy's HMS Driver, the first steam-powered sloop to circumnavigate the globe. The RNLI adopted the Kisbee Ring as standard equipment in 1855; for the next hundred years, lifebuoys were predominantly made from cork.

Cork life rings were better than nothing, but they were relatively heavy and not particularly buoyant - rescuees were frequently injured by the buoy and the rings could not always keep the heads of unconscious victims above water. Kapok - a cotton-like fibre from a tropical tree - was used at times, but is banned under EU regulations as it eventually begins to absorb water and lose buoyancy. Experiments with balsa wood also proved unsuccessful. Today's devices are manufactured from polyethylene and filled with a polyurethane foam to maximise effectiveness.

Glasdon began manufacturing lifebuoy housings more than forty years ago. The first generation housing was closely fitted to the shape of the lifering and made from flexible, impact-absorbing materials for optimum vandal resistance. Several generations of refinement to the design introduced innovations like the quick inspection indicator that allows responsible staff to instantly tell if a housing has been opened, and the Ropemaster™ Rope Management System that shaves valuable seconds off deployment times during rescue attempts.

The Guardian™ Lifebuoy Housing and Glasdon Lifebuoys can be ordered online for fast, FREE delivery within mainland UK and Northern Ireland. Our dedicated sales team are available to discuss your requirements by telephone on (01253) 600 410 or via email at

A History of Life-Saving Devices
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Scotland Excel CPC NWUPC
CIHT CIHT ILP REMA ISOQAR TRL Transpolis MIRA MIRA CHAS NIC EIC ConstructionLine Achilles (UVDB) British Ports Association Highway Electrical Association The Green Web Foundation
Prompt Payment Code Approved Signatory