Keeping your inflatable lifejacket in good condition

Lifejackets are subjected to the heat of the sun and the harshness of salt. Such conditions can result in quite a bit of damage if the jacket isn’t properly looked after.
As a boater you should always check your lifejacket before putting it on and heading out on the water. Inflatable lifejackets clearly aren’t effective if they don’t inflate. All it takes is something like a fish hook to pierce the bladder and prevent them from inflating.

It's a good idea to keep a safety equipment log for your vessel. This can help you record when your equipment needs to be replaced or serviced.

Visual inspection - before each use:

Check for any damage by visually inspecting the buckle, cover and straps for signs of wear and tear. Ensure there are no frayed straps and that the zips and buckle are in working order.

If there are signs of damage, contact old4new@royallifesavingwa.com.au for advice.

Storage:

  • Lifejackets should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated space.
  • Automatic lifejackets that are damp or wet should have their automatic firing capsule removed while the jacket is drying to prevent inflation.
  • It is recommended that a lifejacket should be left to dry on a coat hanger.

Cleaning:

  • Prior to cleaning, remove the automatic firing capsule to avoid inflation.
  • To clean your lifejacket, periodically wash your lifejacket in fresh water, especially if it has been exposed to salt water.
  • Oil and similar stains can be removed by using warm soapy water.
  • Never put your lifejacket in the washing machine, spin or tumble dryer.

In-depth maintenance - every three months

1. Open the cover:

  • Open the lifejacket by lifting the Velcro tabs, splitting the zip open via the quick burst points and inserting a thumb or finger to undo the zip all the way around the jacket.

    opening a lifejacket during maintenance checks
  • Once the two sides of the zip are fully separated, relocate the zip slider to the start point and feed the zip teeth into the slider ready to repack.

    relocating zip slider on lifejacket

 

2. Check the CO2 cylinder:

  • Unscrew and inspect the CO2 cylinder, ensuring there is no rust or corrosion.
  • Weigh the cylinder, it should weigh 146.5g (+/- 2g) for Crewfit 165 lifejackets.

3. Check the operating mechanism:

Automatic operating mechanism

  • Check the operating mechanism is intact and the green indicator clip is in place.
  • With the CO2 cylinder removed, pull the manual inflation cord (this will dislodge the green indicator clip)
  • Check the firing arm is moving freely and the firing pin is free from any damage or corrosion.
  • Replace the firing arm into the body of the mechanism and fit the green retaining clip over the firing arm and into the recesses either side of the mechanism.
  • Check the sealing gaskets in each end of the operating mechanism are fitted correctly and that the automatic cartridge and CO2 cylinder are connected tightly.

inflation mechanism on an automatic lifejacket

Manual operating mechanism

  • Check the operating mechanism is intact and the green indicator clip is in place.
  • With the CO2 cylinder removed, pull the manual inflation cord (this will dislodge the green indicator clip)
  • Check the firing arm is moving freely and the firing pin is free from any damage or corrosion.
  • Replace the firing arm into the body of the mechanism and fit the retaining clip (green indicator) over the firing arm and into the recesses either side of the mechanism.
  • Check the sealing gasket in the end of the operating mechanism is fitted correctly and screw in the CO2 cylinder until hand tight.

inflation mechanism on a manual inflatable lifejacket

4. Inspect the bladder:

  • Check the bladder for any signs of abrasion, wear or damage; thoroughly inspecting all welding, seams and folds.
  • Check that all reflective tape is firmly attached and undamaged.
  • Check the whistle and red oral inflation tube for any signs of wear or damage.

5. Test for leaks:

  • Inflate the bladder using the red oral inflation tube.
  • Hang the lifejacket and leave it inflated overnight.
  • Submerge the mouth end of the inflation tube in water and check for bubbles.
  • If bubbles appear, or if the lifejacket deflates after being left overnight, do not use and contact old4new@royallifesavingwa.com.au for advice.
    checking lifejacket inflation tube

 

6. Deflate and repack the lifejacket:

  • Watch the video below for instructions on repacking your lifejacket.
  • You can also download a copy of the Crewfit Self Care and Maintenance Manual here.

Repacking your Crewfit 165N:

 

Care & Maintenance of your 165N lifejacket: