Your lifejacket is the most important thing you’ll need when out on the water.

Your lifejacket is the most important thing you’ll need when out on the water. When there’s an emergency and you’ve fallen into the water your lifejacket will, quite literally, save your life.

As boats are now coming out of laying up and going back onto the water, it is imperative that lifejackets are thoroughly checked to ensure that it is fit for service and that all parts are corrosion free and in date.

But what specifically needs to be checked. Well, here’s a handy guide!

The Bladder – The bladder of the lifejacket is what is inflated when you hit the water and what holds the air until you’re back to safety. Before going back out in the water it is highly recommended that you manually inflate the bladder using the manual inflator tube until it is at full volume, then leaving it for 24 hours. This is to check whether there are any weak points or failures in the bladder that can let the air escape. If, after 24 hours, the lifejacket has deflated then it must be replaced.

The Auto-Capsule – The Auto capsule is the small, black cap that screws into the firing mechanism underneath the gas cylinder. These are found in the automatic lifejackets and contain a salt bobbin that, if it gets sufficiently wet, with automatically set off the firing mechanism, puncture the gas cylinder and inflate the bladder. To ensure that these will work when they need to all auto capsules have a use by date stamped onto the side of them. They usually have a 3 year life in them and must be replaced once they have expired.

The Gas Cylinder – The gas cylinder comes in a range of sizes (usually either 33g or 38g) and is what holds the compressed air that is used to inflate your lifejacket when the firing mechanism goes off. It is vital that you have the correct sized gas cylinder for your lifejacket as too small a cylinder will mean an underinflated lifejacket, and too large a cylinder could rupture the bladder. And nobody wants that! The size cylinder you need will usually be printed on the lifejacket very clearly next to or near where the cylinder itself is screwed into the firing mechanism. If your gas cylinder is free from any corrosion and is looking clean then it will be fine – any date printed on the side will be a manufacturing date, not an expiry date. There is also a weight stamped onto the side which shows what weight the gas bottle, as a whole, should be weighing if there has been no loss of content. If you weigh your gas cylinder that they weight the same as what’s shown then they’re still good to go. If your cylinder is underweight or is showing noticeable signs of corrosion then it must be replaced.

Manual Vs. Automatic – Lifejackets come in two types – manual and automatic. Manual lifejackets only inflate when you pull the inflation cord and set off the firing mechanism. Automatic lifejackets have an auto capsule that will automatically fire the lifejacket for you the moment you hit the water. There are pros and cons for both lifejackets, but it’s usually recommended that you go with the automatic, especially if you’re heading a way out to sea. For the sake of an extra few pounds, having that peace of mind where, if there’s an accident and you’re knocked hard into the water, your lifejacket will burst into life and keep your head upright and above water until help arrives.

Once you’re all checked then you’re ready to head out and enjoy the water! If you’re local to Brixham, or in the area, we can perform a health-check on your lifejacket to make sure it’s all good to go, else we have all the individual parts needed to replace anything you may need to. If you have a leaky lifejacket, or fancy replacing them, we stock a range of lifejackets that can be found on our website!