Caring for your Life Jacket

Caring for Your Life Jacket

Like all safety equipment, lifejackets require regular maintenance and servicing. Proper care can help you prolong the life of your lifejacket. If at any time you have questions regarding the condition of your lifejacket, take it to your nearest dealer, or call the manufacturer.

Checking Your Lifejacket

Check your lifejacket often for rips, tears and holes. Also check to see that seams, fabric straps and hardware are okay. Give your lifejacket belts and tie tapes a quick, hard pull to make sure they are secure. You should find no signs of waterlogging, mildew odor or shrinkage of the buoyant materials.

If your lifejacket uses bags of kapok (a naturally buoyant material), gently squeeze the bag to check for air leaks. If it leaks, it should be thrown away. Wet kapok can get stiff or waterlogged and lose some of its buoyancy.

Fading material could indicate loss of strength. A weathered lifejacket might tear more easily, resulting in loss of flotation material. Store your lifejacket in a dry, cool, dark place. If the color of your lifejacket is fading, check its strength or replace it.

Test each lifejacket at the start of each season. The law says your lifejackets must be in good shape before you use your boat. Lifejackets in poor shape should be cut up and thrown away.

Taking Care of Your Lifejacket

Follow these tips to ensure your lifejacket stays in good condition:

  1. Don’t alter your life jacket. If yours doesn’t fit, get one that does. An altered life jacket may not save your life.
  2. Don’t put heavy objects on your lifejacket or use it for a kneeling pad or boat fender. Lifejackets lose buoyancy when crushed.
  3. Let your lifejacket drip dry thoroughly before putting it away. Always stow it in a well-ventilated place.
  4. Don’t leave your lifejacket on board for long periods when the boat is not in use.
  5. Never dry your lifejacket on a radiator, heater or any other direct heat source.
  6. Put your name on your lifejacket if only you wear it.
  7. Practice throwing your Type IV lifejacket. Cushions throw best underhand.
  8. Follow the washing instructions on the label. Most lifejackets can be washed by hand in a mild detergent and hung to dry in a well-ventilated area out of any direct sunlight.

Maintaining Reliability of Inflatable Life Jackets

Check your inflatable lifejacket – including the buoyancy cell and inflation system – at least every two months, in addition to the following:

  1. Remove the cylinder
  2. Check all components for dirt or corrosion
  3. Check cylinder for punctures
  4. Check the mouth inflation valve