It is a legal requirement that inflatable lifejackets are serviced in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
Better design, technology and wearability in lifejackets have been a major breakthrough in boating safety. Inflatable lifejackets are now becoming more and more popular as they are easy to wear, don’t get in the way and are increasingly affordable. You should be aware that this type of lifejacket requires extra care, maintenance and service.
Lifejackets are subjected to the heat of the sun and the harshness of salt. Such conditions can result in quite a bit of damage if the jacket isn’t properly looked after. As a boater you should always check your lifejacket before putting it on and heading out on the water. Inflatable lifejackets clearly aren’t effective if they don’t inflate. All it takes is something like a fish hook to pierce the bladder and prevent them from inflating.
You are also legally required to service your inflatable lifejacket in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Unless the manufacturer specifies and permits a longer period, you should get your lifejacket serviced at least once a year. If you’re buying a new inflatable lifejacket, you should have it serviced within a year from the day you bought it.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t remember when you bought your inflatable lifejacket or when you last had it serviced, then it’s a good idea to get it serviced straight away. You should also keep all your servicing receipts and certificates of servicing as evidence of the service. That way, you can always verify the servicing if you ever need to. If you don’t, you could be falling short of the safety equipment requirements as well as putting both yourself and your passengers at risk.
You might also like to think about keeping a safety equipment log for your vessel. It’s a good way to help you record when your equipment needs to be replaced or serviced.
Wear it. Inspect it. Service it.
You’ll find that some lifejacket manufacturers ask that you get your lifejacket serviced by them or an authorised agent. It means your lifejacket will be maintained properly and kept in good working order.
When your lifejacket is being serviced, thorough checks will be carried out to ensure the bladder, reflective tapes, buckles and straps are all up to standard. The servicer will also make sure both the inflation system and oral inflation tube are operating correctly. If you’d like to know more, contact the manufacturer or the place of purchase.
Some manufacturers allow you to service the lifejacket yourself. However, servicing isn’t simply a routine check and clean. It’s far more involved and requires a higher level of inspection and care.
If you are thinking about self servicing, you should make sure you have the necessary ability, knowledge and skill before attempting this. Otherwise we recommend you get it serviced professionally.
If you are self servicing a lifejacket, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and make sure the recharge kit matches your lifejacket.
If a service record is available on the inside of the jacket, sign and date the service record with a permanent marker. If not, you might like to make a paper record of your own and keep a copy handy on board the vessel in case you need to show it to an Officer.
The self servicing of a lifejacket is only valid if the manufacturer allows it and if you keep all servicing receipts and certificates of servicing as documentary evidence of the service occurring. Failure to do so makes verifying servicing impossible, which means you may be in breach of safety requirements and be placing yourself, your family or friends at risk.
If you are using inflatable lifejackets, remember to keep them clean and dry in between each time you use them. This is particularly important with auto inflating models because these can sometimes self inflate when they’re left damp, for example inside a wet vessel.
Pop in for a Life jacket fitting.