Inflatable life jackets are an essential piece of safety equipment for any boating adventure. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear, and provide excellent buoyancy in case of an emergency. However, like any piece of safety equipment, they require proper maintenance and inspection to ensure they function correctly when you need them most.
Here are some tips on how to properly maintain and inspect your inflatable life jacket before each boating adventure:
- Check the CO2 Cylinder: The CO2 cylinder is the most critical component of an inflatable life jacket. It’s essential to check the cylinder’s condition and ensure it’s not expired or damaged. You should also check the cylinder’s weight to make sure it’s the correct weight for your life jacket.
- Inspect the Inflation System: Inspect the inflation system of the life jacket to ensure it’s in good working condition. Check for any leaks, cracks, or signs of damage on the hose, valve, and mechanism. Make sure the valve is tightly sealed and that the mechanism is easy to activate.
- Inspect the Buoyancy Chamber: The buoyancy chamber is the part of the life jacket that provides flotation. Inspect the chamber for any signs of wear and tear, including tears, punctures, and holes. If you notice any damage, replace the life jacket immediately.
- Check the Straps and Buckles: Inspect the straps and buckles of the life jacket to ensure they are not frayed, damaged, or worn. Tighten the straps and buckles to ensure a snug fit, and make sure they are easy to adjust.
- Inspect the Whistle and Reflective Tape: A whistle and reflective tape are required by law on all inflatable life jackets. Make sure the whistle is in good working condition and that the reflective tape is not peeling or damaged.
- Store Properly: After use, rinse the life jacket with fresh water and hang it to dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid exposing the life jacket to direct sunlight or heat, which can damage the material.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure your inflatable life jacket is in good working condition and ready to use in case of an emergency. It’s essential to inspect your life jacket before each boating adventure to ensure it’s functioning correctly and will provide the necessary buoyancy and protection if you need it.
Photo: Mustang Hydrostatic Inflatable Automatic PFD / HIT MD3183 (SMD3183)