With a wide variety of flotation devices on the market, it’s important you know how to check the type you’re using. It is also important to confirm that the flotation device properly fits the person it is intended for. Here are some quick tips on how to check your devices and their fit. This is especially true for children who may have grown since the last time they were on the boat.
Inflatable Life Jacket Prep – These devices should be checked every two to three months with a visual inspection.
- Open up the Velcro cover and check the bladder for tears and abrasions.
- Check buckles and straps.
- Orally inflate the life jacket to capacity.
- Be sure that the cartridge has not been discharged and there is no visible corrosion.
- Leave it inflated for 16 – 24 hours or submerge in water to check for small leaks.
- If all looks good, repackage for further use. If there are any doubts, purchase a replacement.
Type 1 Life Preserver – designed to turn an unconscious person over to a face-up position. Check the life preservers to be sure they are U.S. Coast Guard approved and that they are suitable for the type of activities the wearer will be performing.
- Check size and weight limit guidelines.
- Inspect the life preservers to be sure the buckles are not broken, the covering is not torn, and the straps are not frayed or worn.
- Have the person put the life preserver on and be sure all straps fit around the wearer and all buckles can be secured. Have the wearer put their arms up in the air and have another person lift the life jacket up at the top of the arm holes. If the jacket shoulder piece goes above their cheeks the device is too large for that person and you should find a better fitting option.
You may keep your boat equipped with the proper number of life preservers based on the number of people your boat will hold. However, you should regularly inspect them and prior to heading out for a day on the water make sure every person has a properly fitting life preserve they can get to quickly. Conditions can change fast on the water, and while rare, boat failures can occur that could require everyone to put on a life jacket. To ensure every trip on the water ends well, take a few moments to provide all your passengers with their own flotation device that has already been adjusted to fit them should the need arise.