Boating Equipment

Personal Flotation Device Serviceability

Life jackets often are handled roughly and exposed to less-than-perfect conditions that often include improper storage and extensive UV exposure. Such conditions can shorten the usage life of PFDs. It is important that boat operators are able to distinguish between usable life jackets and those that require replacement. It is also important that PFDs and life jackets be cared for per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Some strategies for caring for life jackets and PFDs include:

  • Using PFDs only for their intended purpose– They should never be used as seat cushions, kneeling pads, pillows or for any other function than for personal safety.
  • Storing PFDs properly– Life jackets and PFDs should always be stored in a well-ventilated area where they are not exposed to direct sunlight. No heavy objects should be stored on top of the PFDs. They should be allowed to air-dry before being stored.

Before a life jacket or PFD is worn, it should be checked for rips, tears, missing parts, broken pieces or mildew. If a jacket has any such wearing, it should be immediately replaced, as it will not function properly in the water.