Life Jacket Replacement
When was the last time you replaced your personal flotation devices (PFDs)? You might say, "Well, they're still in great condition!", but that might not be the case when closely examined. Knowing your life jackets are in great condition or in need of replacement can make a major impact. After all, when in an emergency situation, you need that PFD to be reliable. Before heading out on the water this season, take a little time to inspect your life jackets. Even the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that life jackets be tested at the start of each season. Here are factors to check for that, if present, indicate that it's time to pick up some new PFDs. You never know – doing this simple check could save a life this year.
The first type of damage to inspect your life jackets for is wear and tear. Give each one a look over, searching for rips and tears. It may seem like no big deal when there are small rips or areas of frayed webbing, but this actually makes the flotation foam more vulnerable. As you can imagine, this is very problematic! Exposed foam can easily become damaged. Over time, those smaller rips will grow larger. Should you find damage like this, it's wise to get rid of the life jackets.
How can you dispose of them? Cut the straps to ensure nobody else uses them. That way, you aren't indirectly putting another at risk.
Brittle or Broken Interior Foam
Over time, the flotation foam in your life jackets will deteriorate in quality. The big difference will be whether you own inexpensive or expensive PFDs. The cheaper the life jacket, the cheaper the quality of the flotation foam. This type is more likely to degrade faster, even when cared for. To test your life jacket's foam, just give it a squeeze to half its thickness. Does it return to its original state? If not, it's no good. Is the fabric wrinkled around the foam? This is another sign that your life jacket is ready to be replaced. That's because wrinkled fabric indicated that the foam has contracted, making it less buoyant.
Mold and Mildew
Knowing how to properly store your life jackets will increase their lifespan. It's easy to shrug off a life jacket and just throw it in the boat or kayak for the rest of the day. After all, you're going to wear it again soon. However, this type of neglect invites the growth of mildew and bacteria. Do you really want to be wearing a life jacket housing mold, mildew, and bacteria? If they're already present on your life jacket, you can try cleaning with hydrogen peroxide or soaking in salt water. If the odor of the mildew is strong, it's probably best to just toss the life jacket.
Once you're done boating, kayaking, swimming, or jet skiing for the day, rinse your life jacket out with fresh water from a hose. Even if you've been in a lake or river, it's important to carry out this step in PFD care. Then, hang it to completely air dry in an area away from direct sunlight. Once completely dry, store in a cool, dry, and dark location like your garage.
Does your life jacket still fit? Ensure your PFD, as well as the rest of the family's life jackets, are fitting well. There shouldn't be any degree of discomfort whatsoever. If the jacket feels too tight even after being adjusted, purchase one that feels comfortable.
Make sure the straps are in perfect condition, too. If they're looking torn up or the straps are becoming brittle, it's time to replace.
Other Care Tips
Never leave your life jacket in the direct sunlight. The heat of the sun causes deterioration of the fabric and the flotation foam. To sum, ensure your life jackets are kept clean and dry when not in use.
So, is purchasing new PFDs on your to-do list? At Yamaha Parts Nation, we offer a great selection of adult and children's life jackets made of high-quality materials. Browse through dozens of styles and colorways that you'll love to wear (the kids too). Shop these and everything else you'll need while out on the water!