Lifejackets are such an essential piece of lifesaving kit and should be worn whatever water activity you are taking part in at all times. On Sunday, our team visited Ramsgate harbour and carried out lifejacket checks for sailors and crews who were moored up in the harbour. We found some that were well maintained and cared for and also anumber of jackets that were faulty and would not have worked if the wearer had fallen into water and needed to activate them. Here are our top 10 tips on lifejackets:
1. Inspect the outside of the jacket for wear and tear. Take a detailed look at the cover for any damage, webbing, harnesses, crotch straps, sizing and fit.
2. Even if it is a jacket with an inspection window, undoe the lifejacket at the point next to the inflator.
3. Check the gas cylinder is hand tight, or if it’s a bayonet type, is it firmly locked in position.
4. If the lifejacket is new to you, remove the cylinder and check it has not been fired.
5. Replace the cylinder if required.
6. Look for the green coloured indicators on the trigger and if fitted, on the automatic firing system.
7. Keep spare cyclinders and replacement parts for the automatic firing system on hand. So, that the jacket can be re-armed. Or, keep a spare jacket for each person onboard. The replacement parts are relatively inexpensive to purchase.
8. Get the jacket serviced at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. This is highly recommended.
9. Undertake a thorough inspection of each and every lifejacket at least once a year – more often if the lifejacket is used frequently.
10. Conduct an inflation test of the bladder annually. Inflate the bladder through the oral inflation tube via a low pressure air pump or simply blowing into the tube. Leave inflated for at least 24 hours in a termperature stable environment to check the bladders integrity.
Members of the Community Safety Team chatting to a boat owner during a lifejacket check at Ramsgate Harbour