Proper storage can help maintain the durability of the vest and ensure that all parts of the vest continue to function as designed, lowering the risk for tears or mechanical failure.
In this post I’ll go over a few tips for stowing your PFDs.
Life Jacket Storage Tips
When you’re at dock, it’s good practice to develop a life jacket storage routine to properly prepare the vest for the next time you’re ready to go out.
There are a few simple guidelines to follow.
- Rinse the jacket with fresh water. If the PFD was splashed with or submerged in salt water, you should always rinse the vest with fresh water before stowing. Over time, even small amounts of salt can begin to corrode away the material, so rinsing the vest helps keep it durable and long-lasting.
- Don’t stow the vest in direct sunlight. When it’s time to put the vest away, you want to make sure the vest doesn’t come into direct sunlight. This means it’s usually best stowed below deck or in one of the holds. Over time, continuous exposure to sun will not only fade the vest, but weaken the material, risking tears or mechanical malfunctions.
- Designate a specific location for storage, and use it! Finally, it’s important that you stow your life vests in a specific, designated place. Simply “throwing them down below” doesn’t cut it. You need to know they’re tucked into the pocket on the port side of the V-berth, or in the starboard aft hold near emergency raft. Keeping a consistent location makes the vests easier to access the next time you go out.
The Best Life Jacket Location When Under Way
Even if you’re just taking a short trip through calm waters, when you’re under way your life jacket should never be stowed!
The best life jacket location when under way is on you!
However, if you decide not to wear your life jacket, at a minimum you should have the vest easily accessible.
This means out of the hold and out of it’s bag. Ideally, you’ll have at least one life jacket per passenger within arm’s reach of the cockpit.
That could mean resting on the seat (foam vests make great backrests!) or clipped onto the life lines. The key is simply to have it out, available, and ready to go in case you need it.