Top 10 Lifejacket Checks which could save your life!

Lifejackets are an essential piece of kit whilst out on the water whatever activity you are taking part in.  Whatever the weather or sea conditions our advice is always to wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD).   Lifejackets are useless stored away in a bag, they need to be worn.

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One of the top pieces of advice that you can learn: treat your lifejacket maintenance/checks just like your routine checks on your car or bike, for oil, tyres, windscreen washer etc.  Here are the top 10 lifejacket checks that could help save your life:

  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.  A few years ago, it was frowned upon to inflate the jacket by blowing into the tube, as it was believed to introduce moisture to the inside of the tube. This has been proved not to have any apparent effect to the integrity of the jacket.

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If you require further help with lifejacket checks then why not drop our team a private message on Facebook or email Andrew_Mills@RNLI.org.uk

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Andy Mills

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Striving to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2024 by spreading key safety messages to Thanet communities and its visitors.