How to Maintain your Lifejacket
Never put your life jacket away damp. Open it out, rinse off any salt in fresh water (if it is auto-inflating, make sure you remove the auto-bobbin first!). Allow the jacket to air dry, then re-fit the bobbin and repack it.
Out of season, the life jacket should be partially inflated to remove any creases in the material, and stored on a non-metal coat hanger.
2. Check the gas cylinder
The screws in CO2 cylinders in life jackets can work themselves loose and should be checked for tightness every month. Check manufacturer's expiry dates on cylinders and bobbins and replace as recommended.
3. Carry a re-arming kit
Always carry re-arming kits for each type of jacket you have on board. If a life jacket is accidentally inflated, you will be able to get it ready for use again straight away.
4. Check for corrosion
Check the CO2 bottle for corrosion every 3 months. Rusty cylinders should be replaced and not used. Also check any areas of material that were in contact with the rusty cylinder as the fabric may have been damaged.
5. Check the webbing
Check the webbing every 3 months and the stitching that holds the webbing together. A life jacket with a coloured thread that strongly contrasts with the webbing makes it much easier to spot worn stitching. Also check zips, buckles and other fastenings.
6. Check for Leaks
Every six months inflate the life jacket manually with a hand pump. Using a hand pump will avoid moisture build-up inside the life jacket. Leave it inflated for 24 hours to ensure there are no leaks or damage. Repack the jacket according to the manufacturers folding instructions.
Article courtesy of the RNLI.