View Full Version : Do you trust your life jacket?

16th October 2008, 02:30 PM
Do you trust your life jacket?

The inflatable kind that is - I don't and with good reason.

1) I wore a self inflating lifejacket every working day (as an instructor) for two seasons. We were then replacing the firing mechanism and cylinders so I tested mine under a tap. Nothing! I then submerged it in a large sink of fresh water - Nothing! It had been supplied from new with the wrong inflation bobbin.

2) My current boat came with three used harness / manual life jackets. I stripped and tested them. One had a pin hole in the bladder. All three had badly rusted cylinders. Cylinders were discharged using the firing mechanism from the jacket with the hole. One cylinder gave a reasuring whoosh and would have filled a lifejacket. The second hissed and spluttered for about a minute and may have filled a lifejacket. The third was empty though the seal had been intact.

3) I purchased a set of 4 auto inflate harnesses and life jackets, and stripped and checked them before use. All 4 had inflation bobins that were due for replacement within a couple of months.

My approach - make sure the lifejacket is also a safety harness (and has crotch or thigh straps to keep you in it) and use the harness with a tether to stay attached to the boat. Also carry a proper SOLAS permanent buoyancy life jacket for each crew member to use in survival conditions.

Incidentally, my safety lines for the tethers are in board on the cabin top to reduce the likelyhood of anyone going over the guard rails. I attended the funeral of a friend who was found by the lifeboat, still attached but being towed over the side.

Have fun.

24th October 2008, 03:46 PM
The importance of these checks cannot be overemphasised.

How many people actually blow up their life jackets every year and leave them inflated overnight to prove that they are good?

How many check that the cylinder is actually screwed in properly?

Do you know where the whistle is.

If you are going cruising, does your lifejacket have a proper hood. More people drown in bad weather by inhaling the spray when floating in the ocean, than by lifejacket failure.

24th October 2008, 05:05 PM
In my experience few boaters are even aware of splash drowning and even fewer outlets offer spray hoods in their stock of lifejackets.

A spray hood on your life jacket is a vital bit of kit - I just wish everyone would understand that.

My experience is that even safety instructors do not teach it properly on the sea safety course. On the course I attended =in which we all brought our own life jackets - mine were the only ones with spray hoods - I asked they be shown and demonstrated - otherwise nobody would have been the wiser or even have seen one.