Inspecting Inflatable Life Jackets

Here's what you need to do every two to three months and at the beginning of your boating season to make sure your life jacket will still work properly when you need it.

  • Illustration of visual inspection of life jacket

    Visually Inspect Jacket

    Check the life jacket for rips, tears, holes, broken buckles, etc.

    Illustration of orally inflating life jacket

    Orally Inflate ...

    Even automatically triggered life jackets have an orange inflation tube at the front upper left of the jacket. In an emergency, you can use it to inflate the jacket if the CO2 fails, and for testing, you can use it to make sure the jacket holds air when inflated.

Illustration of CO2 trigger and cartridge on life jacket

Visually Inspect CO2 Trigger And Cartridge

Inspect cartridge to ensure that it hasn't been discharged; inspect inflator for corrosion and serviceability. If the life jacket is automatically triggered by a dissolving pill or bobbin, check to make sure the pill isn't cracked, discolored, or damaged.

  • Illustration of leaving life jacket inflated

    Leave Jacket Inflated For 16-24 Hours

    Inflate for 16 to 24 hours to ensure that it holds air. You can also immerse the life jacket to check for leaks in it or in the manual inflation tube.

    Illustration of repacking life jacket

    If Jacket Holds Air, Repack And Use It!

    Frequent inspection of your jacket can save your life! For specific information, refer to your life jacket owner's manual. For general life jacket information please visit www.BoatUS.org 

— Published: June/July 2014


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