Top 10 Lifejacket Checks Which Could Help Save Your Life!

Lifejackets are an essential piece of safety 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 ten 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.  Previously, our team have found in anumber of case that lifejackets which have been gifted have been fired.  You will be surprised to learn that some brand new lifejackets will have an out-of-date cylinder, so it is always worth checking.

5. Replace the cylinder if required (these can be purchased from most chandlers).

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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Lifejacket Clinic’s Postponed Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 safety protocols have prevented us from holding any lifejacket clinic’s at this current time, but we are still able to offer advice and guidance.  Why not drop us a private message on Facebook or Instagram.

A lifejacket check by an RNLI Community Safety Team or Advisor is not the same as a service by a service agent or manufacturer.   We recommend your lifejacket is regularly serviced by an approved agent or the manufacturer.

Ian Lockyer (RNLI Community Safety Advisor) says “now that we are in lockdown again it is a good time to get those tasks done such as getting your lifejacket checked/serviced. Lifejackets will help save your life if you end up in the water.  Stay safe everyone”.

Useful links

Royal National Lifeboat Institution safety

How to choose and maintain a lifejacket

Lifejackets – useless unless worn

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Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

RNLI Community Safety Support Team Poole HQ