Life Jackets and Checks
A lifejacket is an essential piece of safety equipment and you should have one for every person on board. Make sure each crew member is allocated a lifejacket and it is fitted correctly and that they know not to wear clothing over them. You should never put a child in an adult’s lifejacket; make sure they have one that fits their size.
When to wear one?
It recommended that you should wear one at all times unless you consider it safe not to do so. There are times though when you MUST wear one i.e. fog, at night, strong winds (when you reef put on a lifejacket), children, non-swimmers and in a dinghy.
It is important that your life jackets are checked regularly.
You should also do an annual check where you inflate your lifejacket (use a dinghy foot pump to avoid moisture inside the bladder) and leave inflated for 24 hours to check for leaks and then they should be serviced by an agent according to the manufacturers’ information.
Out-of-season lifejackets should be opened up, partially inflated (to remove the folds) and stored on non-metal coat hangers in a dry well-aired room.
Things to check for regularly
- Stitching, material and webbing - check the general condition, especially at the folds.
- Manual Inflation Toggle - present and in good condition.
- Manual Inflation tube, whistle and reflective tape - are they present and in good condition.
- CO2 Gas Inflation Cylinder this needs to be checked that it is the correct size for your lifejacket, that it is not rusty and/or damaged, that it is screwed in tightly (otherwise the lifejacket may fail to inflate properly), that there is no hole in the end of the bottle. You should also ensure you have spares on board.
The following items are all optional extras and therefore may not be on your lifejacket but if they are you do need to check them.
Automatic Firing Mechanism, check that this has not been activated.
Harness "D" Ring - this is situated on the waist strap you attach your safety line to this and the other end to the "strong points" or jackstays on the boat to prevent you falling overboard, check it is firmly attached. If you do not have one fitted to your lifejacket you will need to wear a separate harness.
Crotch Straps - make sure the webbing is in good condition. It is essential they are adjusted to the individual. The crotch straps prevent the lifejacket from "riding up" when inflated in the water.
Lights - Are they working? Are they in date?
Spray Hoods - these keep the waves and spray off your face which is important if you lose consciousness and it may prevent you from drowning. Make sure it is intact and in good condition.
For a handout please click here for a downloadable version.