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Unfortunately, a PFD tear can mean you need to replace your life jacket. But how can you check if your PFD is damaged and what should you do if it is?
We know that a life jacket is an important part of your gear when it comes to water activities. And that’s why we’ve put this short guide together to help you make sure your PFD is in tip-top shape for all your water adventures.
How To Check Your PFD For Rips Or Tears
It’s recommended that you check your life jacket for rips and tears before each use. This can be done by visually inspecting the life jacket to look for any damage to the fabric.
Make sure you check every part of your life jacket, including the webbing, buckles and zips. Pull hard on the straps to make sure they can retain their strength under pressure.
If you have an inflatable life jacket, you can inflate it manually using the mouthpiece. Leave it overnight and it should still be inflated the next morning if there are no leaks or holes in the material. If the PFD has deflated overnight, it may have a hole in it.
Video: How To Check And Maintain Your Lifejacket
What Should You Do If You Find A Tear In Your PFD?
Replace Your PFD
If you find that your PFD has a tear in it then it’s recommended that you purchase a new life jacket in order to replace it. This goes for both standard and inflatable PFDs.
It is generally not recommended that you try to patch the life jacket as this can affect its performance. However, if the tear or damage happens while you’re on the water, then patching it will probably be the only thing you can do until you’re back on shore.
It’s The Law
If your life jacket is US Coast Guard approved, it must be in good condition for it to meet the requirements.
This can be even more important if you are in an area or taking part in an activity where a USCG approved life jacket is required to be worn by law.
Even if it’s not mandatory for a PFD to be worn, the life jackets that you have on board your vessel must also be free of damage in order for them to meet the US Coast Guard’s requirements.
How To Help Prevent Your Life Jacket From Tearing?
Store It Correctly
Making sure you store your life jacket correctly can be a step in the right direction towards keeping your life jacket in good shape for your next trip. This means making sure that it is clean and thoroughly dry before you put it away.
It can be best to store your PFD in an area that is cool, well ventilated and away from direct sunlight. Sunlight and heat can weaken the fabric, making your PFD more susceptible to rips and damage.
It can be a good idea to hang up your life jacket and keep it in your home or somewhere that has a consistent temperature and humidity level.
Keep It Well Maintained
Regular maintenance can help to prevent damage to your life jacket. As well as checking your PFD before each use, it can be a good idea to test it every couple of months.
A more thorough check can be carried out annually, and some manufacturers and outfitters may offer annual servicing at a local level.
We all know a PFD can help to save your life, so it can be important that you look after it well. Keep it clean, store it correctly and check it for damage before each use.
And remember if your PFD gets torn, it’s probably time to replace it.
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