Life Jacket Inspection Tips for Proper Life Jacket Maintenance

life_jacket_inspectionBeing a responsible boater doesn’t stop when you purchase new PFDs for your vessel. It’s also important that you regularly monitor the condition of any flotation device on board.

In this post I’ll provide instructions on how to ensure proper life jacket maintenance by performing a regular life jacket inspection. These instructions are focused on inflatable life jackets, both manual and automatic.

How to Perform a Life Jacket Inspection

If you own an inflatable life jacket, you should perform a thorough life jacket inspection every 2-3 months, especially after extended periods of use. To inspect your life jacket, take the following steps:

  1. Check for any scratches, tears, or rips in the fabric, as well as any broken buckles, fasteners or zippers.
  2. Inspect the CO2 cartridge to ensure it is armed and active. If it has been discharged you will need to replace the cartridge.
  3. Orally inflate the jacket. All inflatable vests, whether automatic or manual, have an oral tube you can use to inflate the vest without triggering the CO2 cannister.
  4. Leave the vest inflated for 24 hours. For a proper inspection, you need to ensure not only that the vest inflates, but that there is no sign of air leakage. Leaving the vest inflated for up to 24 hours can confirm that it has no issues.
  5. Repack and stow properly. After ensuring there are no holes in the jacket, repack the inflated section into its original form and properly stow the vest until the next time you go out on the water.

For further information, you may also wish to watch this video, courtesy of Boat U.S.


Further Tips for Proper Life Jacket Maintenance

  • Frequent Fast Inspection. In addition to the regular full life jacket inspection, you can do a quick check up of your personal safety equipment every time you go out on the water. For most inflatable vests, you can look to the indicator panel, which will display green if properly armed and ready, or red if further inspection and maintenance is necessary.
  • Keep the Jacket Properly Stowed. When you are not using your life jacket, keeping the device properly stowed in a secure, dry area will help preserve the vest and ensure its durability in the future.
  • Complete Repairs Quickly. If you do come across any tears or rips during your life jacket inspection, make sure to send the jacket in for repairs quickly, and do not use the jacket if there are any flaws. Even slight rips may be indications of further damage to the vest, which may prevent its proper inflation. Read more about servicing your life jacket.

If you’re considering purchasing an inflatable life jacket, I suggest you read this post on the pros and cons of inflatable life jackets, the post on different types of life jackets, or click here to browse adult life jackets.



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