When do we really need our life jacket? When it gets serious. When we are no longer on board due to an accident, an accident or even carelessness, but in the water. When theory suddenly turns into practice and the wet oilskins stick to you and hinder your swimming. And the inflated, automatic life jacket helps to keep your head above water between the waves. So that the life-saving vest really works in an emergency, it must be tested every two years.
A car must regularly to the TÜV or also to the Pickerl inspection, the boat trailer of course also and the life raft anyway. But with the automatic life jackets, in an emergency a real survival aid, it is left to sailors themselves to take care of a regular check.
Have life jackets checked regularly
Every two years, vests should be checked directly by the manufacturer or a certified maintenance station. If there are no complaints, the vest receives a FSR badge (Fachverband Seenot-Rettungsmittel e.V.) with the current inspection date in Germany.
During the check of the life jacket, the function control of the automatic system is checked and a tightness test is carried out. For this purpose, the correct fit and dry condition of the salt tablet is checked and it is replaced if necessary. The seals are renewed and the mouth inflation valve as well as the adjustment buckle and closure are subjected to a functional test. In addition, the CO2 cartridge is checked or replaced and the seams and straps are inspected. Only when all the points are fulfilled, the badge is issued, which certifies that the vest is in a ready-to-use condition.
Those who often wear their lifejackets in strenuous, labor-intensive conditions are better off taking their lifejackets in for service annually rather than every two years. This also applies to lifejackets that are exposed to widely fluctuating temperatures. Both high heat and extreme cold can take their toll on the seams. Maintenance by a specialist company costs around 30 euros.
A charter yacht must have enough life jackets on board for the crew, but many prefer to take their own vest, which fits better and of which they have convinced themselves that it works properly.
If the lifejacket is ten years old, it should be serviced annually by the manufacturer And after 14 years, it is time to sort it out and invest in a new one. The risk is too great that after so many years in direct contact with a lot of UV radiation and salty air, the seams are no longer stable and the fabric has become porous.
By the way: Even solid life jackets should be replaced after ten years. The vests used mainly in the dinghy sector do not need a service check, but you should take a critical look at them after the end of the season and especially make sure that the material is not brittle and the buckles close correctly.
SeaHelp Tip: Immediately after sailing or the last trip with the motor boat, bring the life jackets to the service, then nothing stands in the way of an early start to the new season in terms of safety. Many service workshops also offer to pick up the vests directly with the life raft from the ship and also to bring them back again. Other providers deliver prepaid and addressed maintenance boxes with which the vests can be conveniently shipped.
SeaHelp Advantage Partners: In addition, we at SeaHelp have an exclusive offer for our members from our advantage partner MORITZ Sailmakers GmbH: Who gives his life jacket here for maintenance, receives the SeaHelp member discount of 10 percent!