The best PFD is the one you wear, but it can only save your life if it works. That’s why it’s so important to maintain your PFDs and to inspect them regularly to make sure they are in good condition and working properly. Check out these tips from Mustang Survival, a leading maker of marine safety gear.
VISUAL INSPECTION BEFORE EVERY USE
- There are no rips, tears, excessive abrasion or holes, all seams are securely sewn, and the cover, straps and hardware are still strong.
- Oral-inflation dust cap is in the stowed position
- The PFD is not twisted
- All zippers, closures and waist buckle are secure
- Your inflator status indicator is green. Some PFDs have more than one status indicator! Refer to your product manual if you’re not sure
- The inflator pull-tab is hanging on the outside
- Bobbin Check
EVERY TWO MONTHS
- Oral Inflation Valve Test: Fully inflate the PFD using the oral inflator, and then hold the valve under water. If bubbles appear, deflate the PFD and re-inflate it again.
- Leak Test: To test for air leakage, orally inflate your PFD until firm and then let it sit inflated for 16 hours. A PFD with a leak in it will not hold its firmness and should be replaced.
- Bobbin Inspection and Replacement: Your inflatable PFD may use a bobbin activation system. This is a yellow “pill” with white powder inside. When the white powder dissolves, it activates a pin that punctures the CO2 cylinder and inflates your PFD. Inspect the pill to make sure it’s still intact and replace the pill if it looks compromised.
- Perform a thorough Visual Inspection
- Perform the Oral Inflation Valve Test
- Perform the Leak Test
- Clean the inflatable PFD
- Check for dirt and corrosion and replace all corroded parts
- Record “Annual” in permanent ink on the PFD service record label