Life Jacket Inspection and Maintenance

Life Jacket Inspection and Maintenance

Inflatable life jackets

Inflatable life jackets rely on inflatable chambers that provide buoyancy when inflated. Uninflated, inflatable life jackets are less bulky than inherently buoyant life jackets. Inflatables come in a variety performance types. The specific type of life jacket is determined by characteristics such as its amount of buoyancy, its in-water performance and its type of inflation mechanism. To understand the details of a life jacket, read the life jacket label and owner’s manual, and consult your dealer or retailer if necessary. All Inflatables contain a backup oral inflation tube (which also serves as the deflation tube).


• High visibility when inflated

• Turns most wearers face-up faster than traditional life jackets

• Will usually keep unconscious users face-up

• May be more comfortable than inherently buoyant life jackets

• Superior in-water performance


• Some require multiple steps to deploy

• Not suitable for nonswimmers because they cannot accomplish oral inflation if needed

• Only approved for persons 16 years of age and older

• Not appropriate for activities that involve frequent water entry or high-speed boating activities
  (e.g., personal watercraft use, racing, sailboarding, whitewater rafting)

• Require frequent inspection and maintenance


Types of inflatable mechanisms
Automatic :
Uses a water-soluble capsule attached to the inflation unit; its mechanism pierces the CO2 cylinder and releases the gas when
submerged or when it senses other water-related triggers (e.g. water pressure). Units with automatic inflation mechanisms
may also be manually inflated by using the ripcord.
Manual :
Releases the CO2 gas from the cylinder via ripcord
Cylinder Seal Indication:
Makes it easier to determine if the CO2 cylinder is properly armed. Life jackets with cylinder seal indication are considered more
reliable. The CO2 cylinders in life jackets without cylinder seal indication must be inspected regularly to determine if they are charged.
Maintaining inflatable life jackets
Check your inflatable life jacket including the buoyancy cell and
inflation system at least every 2 months, in addition to the following :
1. If the life jacket does not have cylinder seal indication, remove the cylinder, and check for punctures and rust.
2. Check all components for dirt or corrosion.
3. Check the mouth inflation valve for blockages and tears.
4. Store in a cool dry place.
5. Replace the bobbin on an automatic model every 12 months,unless specified otherwise.