Checking Your Lifejacket

Check your lifejacket often for rips, tears and holes. Also check to see that seams, fabric straps and hardware are okay. Give your lifejacket belts and tie tapes a quick, hard pull to make sure they are secure. You should find no signs of waterlogging, mildew odor or shrinkage of the buoyant materials.

If your lifejacket uses bags of kapok (a naturally buoyant material), gently squeeze the bag to check for air leaks. If it leaks, it should be thrown away. Wet kapok can get stiff or waterlogged and lose some of its buoyancy.

Fading material could indicate loss of strength. A weathered lifejacket might tear more easily, resulting in loss of flotation material. Store your lifejacket in a dry, cool, dark place. If the color of your lifejacket is fading, check its strength or replace it.

Test each lifejacket at the start of each season. The law says your lifejackets must be in good shape before you use your boat. Lifejackets in poor shape should be cut up and thrown away.