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Inflatable Life Jacket Expiration

posted Aug 12, 2013, 1:59 PM by Bob Mueller
Inflatable Life Jackets usually have some sort of an expiration date.  Once this date is past, you must purchase some sort of recharge kit for the life jacket for the life jacket to be safe, and also to be compliant with the law.  I purchased and started wearing an inflatable life jacket 5 years ago.  The charging kit included with the jacket expires at the end of this year.  I did not want to just take the old charging kit out and throw it away.  I decided to jump in the water and have the jacket inflate automatically.  So I would be better prepared and know what to expect if I were to fall into the water unexpectedly.

Before I inflated the life jacket with the automatic inflator, I inflated it with the oral inflation tube.  I wanted to inflate it, then deflate it and pack it back up.  I wanted to do all this before I used the automatic inflator, so I was sure that I could pack the jacket back up the proper way, so that it would deploy automatically.

Some of the things that I learned:  Keep the jacket straps relatively loose.  When it inflates, the straps get much, much tighter!  I was really surprised how much support the life jacket gave my head, to keep it out of the water.  It also got pretty tight around my neck.  Not uncomfortably tight, just tighter then I anticipated, to make sure that it lifted my chin out of the water.  It almost felt like a neck brace.  I really believe that if I were unconscious, it would easily keep my head out of the water.  I also found a whistle inside the folded life jacket, that I never knew was there.

If you own an inflatable life jacket, I highly recommend that you use the oral inflation tube to inflate the jacket before you use the jacket on the water.  Adjust the straps so that they fit properly. Allow the jacket to sit for 24 hours to make certain it holds air.  After that test, fold it back up.  It's your own life that it is designed to save.  Don't be callous with your own life.