When should you discard a PFD? When should you throw away a personal flotation device and lifejacket that’s no longer buoyant? Always check the fit of your PFD before venturing out on the lake. Check the CO2 in the PFD’s cylinder tanks for expiry dates. Once the air in the cartridge has expired, the life jacket is no longer safe to use.
When Should a PFD Be Replaced or Discarded?
If the vest material gets discolored or faded
Your PFD is generally constructed of synthetic materials damaged by UV radiation. If the color of the PFD begins to fade, it has been exposed to UV light and must be replaced. The back of our PFDs is reinforced with a bright yellow stripe to prevent cuts and abrasions. The color of the line can fade over time if exposed to UV light, so you should replace your PFD every year or two when it fades.
When the Straps Are Fraying
The strap material on your PFD may deteriorate after a long period of severe usage. Check the straps for any damage frequently. The last thing you want is to break during a high-speed skydive or an emergency landing at sea.
The replacement straps are designed to be the same as the original PFD, so you must get any replacement straps that match your original PFD. What about the adjusting straps? Will they fit most PFDs? The adjustment straps will fit most standard webbing PFDs and skydiving harnesses.
Read more: Best Kayak Helmets [Top 5] – Whitewater Helmet Review
If the foam in the PFDs is torn or compressed
The foam within a PFD is one of its most essential components. It’s the portion that allows you to float and may save your life. If the foam is ripped or crushed, the PFD loses its buoyancy and is rendered useless. This usually occurs when the foam has been kept inappropriately or not adequately dried. So, check your PFD the next time you’re heading out on a bike ride.
If it isn’t dry enough or torn, don’t be surprised if you’re in a ditch. You’ll know it can be excruciating if you’ve intentionally ripped the foam from your PFD. Some people have even broken their arms trying to cut the foam out of their gear. In addition to being uncomfortable and painful, ripping a PFD’s foam can also damage it over time (see our article on proper care for more info).
When Your PFD No Longer Fits
If your flotation device (PFD) is old and worn out, you may not need to toss it – but you will need a new one if you’ve lost or gained weight. The PFD will struggle to keep you afloat if you’re too big. You could slide out of the gadget if it’s too tiny. If it’s in excellent shape, you won’t need to replace it, but you might need to throw it away if it’s past its prime. According to the American Red Cross, you should replace your PFD every five years.
A life jacket is a type of PFD designed to keep you afloat if you’re unconscious or in impact-free water – even if your body is submerged for more than one minute. You can buy one at a grocery store or online. It will help to learn how to use one if you’re sea-bound. Just make sure you put it on before jumping into the water and that your PFD is secured to allow it to wear down over time.
Read more: Best PFDs For SUP [Top 7] – SUP PFD Review
If the PFD is absorbing excessive amounts of water
PFD makes use of a closed-cell foam that does not absorb water. If your PFD begins to drink water, it will affect its buoyancy, and you might need to replace it. You’ll be wearing the PFD a lot over time, and it’ll get wet, which might cause the device to lose its waterproofing.
The PFD you’re wearing today was made of polypropylene. It’s a suitable plastic that’s resistant to abrasion, and it doesn’t get wet as quickly. But its durability is marred by one of the most significant safety issues for all kayakers: its weak seams!
There are two primary problems: polypropylene PFDs: Polypropylene PFDs are not waterproof. They’re made of polypropylene, a chemical compound that does not bind water. Consequently, water can penetrate the PFD and get inside it whether you want it. In addition to absorbing moisture, polypropylene also absorbs heat and expands when temperatures drop below freezing.
If the Strap Connectors Break
Make sure the plastic isn’t cracked or chipped; you’ll need to replace it if it is. It is good practice to take the camera off for a few minutes each time. Some users find that their batteries run down more quickly than expected with prolonged continuous usage. It may be due to an accident, in which case it’s best to replace the battery before continuing.
The damage may also occur if a strap or strap connector has broken or come off or bent the camera’s support arm. While most of the time, users should not have to purchase replacement straps, there are some instances where it is necessary. If a strap connector breaks or comes off, and one has not yet been replaced, try letting it soak in vinegar for about five minutes before putting it back on.
If the fabric is torn or has a hole in it
If your floatation device (PFD) is torn or leaking, or if the air is leaking, you should replace it. Rips, rips, and punctures can reduce buoyancy, which you don’t want while whitewater rafting. Do not attempt to repair the leaks; instead, get a new inflatable .
Inflatable PFDs can be purchased at many sporting goods stores and camping stores. Stay hydrated. In addition to drinking water, you should also be drinking electrolyte-replenishing fluids. And carbohydrates (bread, crackers, candy) to prevent dehydration.
You are reading: When Should You Discard A PFD? – PFDs Maintenance
What is PFD?
A personal flotation device (PFD) is boating safety equipment that keeps the wearer buoyant when in the water. A PFD aims to keep the wearer’s head out of the water, whether he is aware or unconscious, and avoid drowning. PFDs exist in various sizes depending on the weight and size of the wearer and may have different features based on the security and safety necessary for the application.
A PFD is an essential piece of boating safety equipment that helps in the wearer’s survival when in the water. It keeps the wearer afloat and travels safely in shallow or deep water. The essential flotation device consists of a buoyancy chamber, a bag filled with air, and a strap to the person’s body.
There are two types of life jackets: foam-filled and non-foam-filled.
Foam-filled life jackets
Recreational kayakers, canoers, and stand-up paddleboarders will be wearing these PFDs. They have the appearance of a vest and depend on flotation material, usually foam, to provide buoyancy. Because the fabric is engineered to float, it is simple to use and will offer buoyancy.
These are Type III USCG-approved life jackets, meaning the Coast Guard has certified that they are durable and provide adequate buoyancy. The PFDs will be made of fabric to offer durability. However, they won’t look as nice or feel as good as a high-quality custom-cut vest. They will also not provide the same level of protection that a fully custom-made USCG-approved life jacket offers.
The PFD isn’t the only thing that will get wet. If you’re paddling in a storm on a lake, river, or ocean shoreline, or if it is raining heavily, you will need rain gear as well. On top of that, the water’s impact hits your body and chest.
When not inflated, their small profile makes them incredibly comfortable to wear. Pulling a cord activates a CO2 gas cartridge and inflates the vest in the manual method. When immersed in water, the mechanical design increases. The manual design is typically appropriate for vigorous kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
However, internal inflation options are limited to a two-way valve. The vest comes with a detachable dry bag and an elastic band to keep it in place. The Inflatable PFD is available for purchase directly from the manufacturer or endorsed retailers and distributors.
Read more: Kayak Weight – How Much Does A Kayak Weigh?
How Can Your PFD Be Tested?
Check the buoyancy of your PFDs.
If your life jacket is riding up beyond your lips or ears, it is too small or tight. It should keep you close and enable you to float freely. Try floating on your back with your legs raised to test whether the PFD keeps you afloat.
You should also check that your PFD enables you to breathe freely and keeps your chin out of the water. If your head and neck are below the PFD, you may need a more oversized life jacket. Most boats do not have backboards, so no matter how well fitted you are in the front of your PFD, it might still restrict you to one side or another depending on the boat is going and where you are sitting.
You may acquire a newton measurement using this approach. A rope, a weight of at least 10 kg, and your PFD are all required. Submerge the weight in the water and attach it to the string. Then, using the baggage scale, weigh it and record the result. If you haven’t already, convert this quantity to kilos.
To obtain the newtons of buoyancy, multiply it by 9.8. Adult PFDs should have at least 50 newtons, although they may have up to 275 newtons in severe conditions. of buoyancy. Select a line that will allow the PFD to float in the air—even at low speeds and lightly weighted. The point of the line should be above the stern, not just aft of where the PFD is perched.
Check Your Life Jackets Inflatable’s CO2 Tanks
Ideally, during the boating season, it would help if you inflated your PFD at least once a year. Because the inflating mechanism may be vulnerable to corrosion, we suggest checking every two to three months.
Unfold the vest and gently remove the CO2 cylinder and bobbin. Examine the date stamped on the bobbin (note that some vests have the expiration date printed on the exterior of the inflator). And note the date. To inflate your PFD, remove the cylinder from the vest. Insert a CO2 cartridge into the fitting and ensure it is in place.
Follow these steps:
1. Press down on both sides of the outer casing to release air pressure through your PFD and raise it off your chest as much as you can without straining your shoulders. Quickly remove it and reassemble the vest using the original carrying strap to hold it in place temporarily.
2. Reassemble your PFD by pulling the original sleeve tube through the opening of the PFD, so it is firmly seated on top of your chest with its holes aligned in the same direction as you drew them on your chart plotter (don’t over-tighten it).
Where the tube meets the sleeve, pull the original sleeve tube through with as much force as possible and make sure that you remove it from the bottom, not from the top. Insert a CO2 cartridge into your PFD and replace your canister (if needed) to inflate your PFD.
3. Release all of your straps to gain additional storage room for your PFD.
One of the best things about a PFD is that it can carry extra gear, including fishing gear, kayaks, etc. However, we have created three additional straps to keep your PFD organized and accessible.
4. Gently remove the CO2 cartridge from your PFD and place it in a plastic baggie or another small safe container until you are ready to use it again. Ensure that the CO2 cartridge does not shift so much that it is in danger of exploding!
After placing it into a safe container, you should store your PFD cool and dry. If you need to store it inside a car, keep the CO2 cartridge out of the air but not in contact with any metal surfaces.
Read more: What To Wear Kayaking?
Make Sure Your PFD Fits
All boaters should wear a life jacket when on the water. If you are not wearing your PFD, ensure it is easily accessible in an emergency. Please don’t purchase a disposable PFD and keep it in its original package!
Unwrap it, test it, and store it somewhere accessible. Never operate a boat while drunk. If you are unsure of the strength or condition of your alcoholic beverage, I urge you not to consume it. This is especially true if you have consumed alcohol that has been mixed with water, carbonated drinks, etc. Alcohol is a depressant and will put an end to all reasoning powers.
When operating a boat or any motorized vehicle, you must remember the following safety rules. Never use a boat or other motorized transportation unless wearing your PFD and personal safety equipment (MSSE).
Examine the Straps
Straps are prone to deterioration since they are subjected to wear and strain. You may check for fraying or weakening by visually scrutinizing the straps, especially the shoulders and waist. Another approach to studying the straps is to tug them hard to see if they can withstand the further strain. ; if the belts can’t support much weight, they are likely to break apart.
Some family members don’t buy in bulk and buy just a few pieces as gifts. Since your items will look worn and poor, you need to avoid any unnecessary sales that only benefit your immediate family; instead, buy at the total price to save money and the long- term.
If you have been poorly treated by a relative and have been excluded from the family, you should be prepared to leave your home and assets. If you are able, work out a financial settlement with your relatives to remain in good order for their survivors.
Read more: Why Do Kayaks Have Scupper Holes? Do I Need Scupper Plugs For My Kayak?
Essential Considerations When Choosing A PFD
PFD Sizing And Fitting
Adults should choose a PFD based on their chest size rather than their weight. Measure the diameter of your chest at its widest point to determine your chest size. To get the proper size, combine this number with the PFD manufacturer’s sizing guidelines.
The weight of your bike should be based on your body weight, not your weight, the size of the seat post you use, or all other factors. The best way to get an accurate measurement is to take a measuring tape, go around your waist and chest from the shoulder back, and measure from the shoulder head to where the tape touches you.
Features and Specifications of Foam PFDs
A brightly colored PFD will help you stand out in low-light situations. An adult requires around 7-12 pounds of buoyancy to keep their head above water. If you’re paddling in hot weather, you’ll notice that PFDs may become hot. Look for built-in vents that will enable the heat from your body to escape.
If you’re paddling with a friend or family member, perhaps they’ll be in the water with you and help keep the heat away. Trim tabs are essential when floating near other vessels. A PFD that cannot trim its hood may become snagged on an object, resulting in a puncture wound or worse. If your PFD has trim tabs, you’ll need to remove them before entering a small boat.
Read more: Kayak Weight Limit – How Much Weight Can A Kayak Hold?
Do Inflatable Life Jackets Expire?
The inflatable life jacket is theoretically indestructible, but due to prolonged water exposure, the material may lose its capacity to sustain buoyancy. Other life-saving devices, such as CO2 cylinders and bobbins, wear out with time and must be replaced.
The suit is recommended for non-swimmers and snorkellers. It has been tested to withstand constant pressure for up to 12 hours (aircraft, surface water) and 24 hours (seawater). The adjustable/adjustable dual valve system helps you choose the most comfortable setup. The suit has an integrated, self-repairing, and self-maintaining lifejacket valve (LJV).
It is fitted with a reinforced shoulder strap to relieve the pressure on your chest. The built-in CO2 cylinder and bobbins can be inflated manually or automatically with the press of a button. Furthermore, it comes equipped with an easy release buckle to unclip from the air tank easily.
How Long Do Foam Life Jackets Last?
Crushing the foam in a life vest reduces the buoyancy rating, making it more difficult to remain afloat. Yes, it would help if you considered buying a replacement after ten years. Suppose you’re not enjoying the life of a salted fish. This is a critical point; if you regularly purchase life vests, ensure that you’re using the correct size.
You’re now set to dive with a life vest, but the next step may be nerve-wracking. You should remove the chest strap from your vest before removing it from your jacket. This helps extinguish other fires on the coat and keeps you afloat easier at depth.
How to Care for Your PFD?
Keep your PFD out of direct sunlight and out of high-temperature storage. The material is severely damaged by UV radiation and heat. A PFD has an average life expectancy of 10 years or more. If you don’t use it much, you should clean it once a year. You’ll want to replace the air cartridges when they run out.
In the past, boots were attached to a belt that ran through a pocket sewn in the pad of your pants. That was durable enough but didn’t fit very well, so you still had to wear a PFD or some lifejacket. The newer style has an open-bottom system to put your boots farther forward on the board. This gives you a little more flexibility, making the PFD too far away and cumbersome to remove.
After being cleaned, how should a life jacket be dried?
Always air dry your PFD in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. To prevent mildew from developing, hang the PFD. If food, sunscreen, or mud are visible on your life vest, you should wash it immediately. If the life jacket has mold, brush the spores away outside before soaking the cloth.
When swimming, always wear a life jacket that fits your body correctly, is not restricted by crisscross straps or buckles, and covers your shoulders and neck. Don’t put sunscreen or mud on the outside of the life vest. This can cause mold to grow inside it and damage its structure. Always wear a life jacket made of durable material.
PFDs: Who Approves Them?
Every PFD will come with a product label that details the device’s intended usage, the size of the person it will fit, any specific maintenance instructions, and how to wear it correctly. It will also state if the US Coast Guard has authorized the PFD.
Regardless of the brand or model, PFDs are required for all vessels over 300 feet long and larger (MV and LNG). All other containers will have a life jacket if they carry passengers. The Coast Guard requires that life jackets be securely fastened and worn correctly.
What Are the PFD Requirements?
Every person aboard your boat must have a wearable PFD that is the proper size. You must have at least one Type 4 throwable PFD on board if your boat is longer than 16 feet. Inflatable PFDs are not recommended for those under the age of 16. They’re also not allowed to participate in high-impact activities like waterskiing or driving a personal watercraft.
Boaters with a Type 3 PFD must wear it off the boat. If you think you’ll be riding your boat in rougher water, the Coast Guard recommends that you outfit it with a Type 1 PFD or type 3 PFD (the latter is more robust and is recommended for those who will be in really rough water).
A Type 3 PFD will be your primary PFD, while a Type 1 or type 4 may be used as a backup. The weight of the vessel needs to be considered when designing the dimensions of your watercraft. You’ll need to make sure that it’s not going to tip over when you’re boating with it in one hand.
On a boat, where should PFDs be kept?
While out on the water, keep your floatation devices (PFD) on the boat’s upper deck. Please put them somewhere where they’ll be easy to find in an accident. There should be no extra apparatus or gear covering the PDFs or obstructing them.
It is recommended that you use a PFD for the whole boat ride. Although the optional PFDs are sold separately. The PFD is designed to be worn under the life jacket, but it does not have to be attached to a life jacket. The PFD is designed for adults, and children should wear a properly sized PFD that fits snugly and securely over their shoulders.
A life jacket must always be worn during boating. It is critical to wear a PFD during your ride and keep it on throughout the trip. Many boaters who use alcohol or recreational drugs or are not in good physical condition do not wear a PFD when they go boating, especially if they have young children.