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A Guide to Lifejacket Servicing and Maintenance

 
A lifejacket is undoubtedly one of the most vital pieces of equipment in any seafarer’s kit bag. Worn correctly – and maintained properly - they can save your life. However, it’s important to remember that a lifejacket is not a piece of equipment you can ‘set and forget’. They require regular checking and servicing to ensure they are working properly.
 
Many sailors get their equipment serviced each year at the beginning of the racing season. While this is adequate, it is advisable to check your equipment more regularly; every 3 months is ideal. The good news is, a basic check can be completed at home – just follow the instructions in the maintenance guide below.
 
For a more comprehensive safety check, all Ocean Safety branches offer full lifejacket and life raft servicing throughout the year.

Lifejacket Maintenance Guide

This guide will teach you to complete a basic lifejacket check, using the Kru Sport Pro as an example. These checks ensure your equipment will keep you safe on the water. The key points to look for are as follows:
 
Lifejacket fabric:
• Wipe down the outer fabric of the Kru Sport Pro with warm water – avoid using harsh chemicals to clean the jacket; this could cause damage or corrosion
• Check the fabric for any cuts, tears, abrasion or signs of chemical or heat damage
• Run your fingers along the seams and check all the stitching thoroughly for signs of pulling or unravelling
• Even if your lifejacket has not been used often, it is important to complete this step. This type of damage can impair the lifejacket’s function and can occur even in storage
4
 
Bladder:
• Use the oral inflation tube to inflate the jacket
• Place it in a controlled, dry environment for 24 hours
• If the pressure decreases over this period, the jacket could be unsafe and need servicing
• Check the oral inflation tube is intact – while the bladder is inflated, place the tube underwater. Check for bubbles; this indicates escaping air. If this happens, take the lifejacket in for a full service as soon as you can
 
OS Press Release 3.5.19 V4 1
 
Components:
• Check all lifejacket components for signs of breakage, damage or wear and tear
 
Light:
• Press the test button on the light to ensure it is working properly
• If the lifejacket has a water-activated light, like the Kru Sport Pro, splash some water onto the light’s terminal
• It is important to store your lifejacket in dry conditions as damp can activate the light and run down the battery
 
OS Press Release 3.5.19 V4 5
 
Spray hood:
• Make sure that the spray hood is securely attached to the lifejacket
• Inspect any buckles and stitching; run your fingers along the seams, feeling for signs of wear and tear
• Check the fabric for corrosion and wear
OS Press Release 3.5.19 V4 3
Firing unit:
• Make sure the firing head indicators are showing green lights – this indicates that the mechanism is working properly
• On the Kru Sport Pro, the firing head contains 2 green lights. They indicate that the cylinder has been stored correctly and also that it has not been used
• Check the expiry date. If the unit is out of date, replace it as soon as possible
• Make sure the firing head is not loose; it should be screwed in tight
 
Cylinder:
• Check the cylinder for corrosion – this includes making sure the join to the firing unit is clear
• The cylinder should be screwed in tight
• Unscrew and remove cylinder and use a pair of digital kitchen scales to check weigh the gross weight of cylinder and compare with marking on cylinder, if underweight it MUST be replaced.
 
OS Press Release 3.5.19 V4 2
 
The check is now complete, and the lifejacket is ready for use. Before repackaging, make sure it is completely dry. If you are unsure about the condition of your lifejacket, or it has bladder or cylinder damage, contact any Ocean Safety branch to arrange a full service.

To watch a service take place, as well as a guide to repacking your lifejacket, watch the video below:
 

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