Boaties are urged to check lifejackets
New Zealand’s national Safer Boating Week, October 12-19, has an important new message for boaties: check your lifejackets because old lifejackets can fail.
“Many boaties’ lifejackets are too old and will not help you float,” Safer Boating Forum chairwoman Sharyn Forsyth said.
Manufacturers say lifejackets should be replaced after up to 10 years.
“Seawater and sun are tough on equipment, and wear and tear can shorten your lifejackets’ lifespan to less than 10 years.
“Worryingly, we know many Kiwi boaties are still relying on kapok-filled lifejackets that are 30 to 50 years old.
“Kapok-filled lifejackets are dangerous, even if they look brand new and have been well looked after.”
Kapok is a fluffy plant fibre, similar to cotton. It has not been used in lifejackets since the 1980s because it can absorb water and cause wearers to sink.
The cotton straps on these old lifejackets are also a serious risk. They rot over time even if a lifejacket is not used. In an emergency cotton straps can tear or break off.
Lifejackets with either kapok filling or cotton straps should be destroyed and new jackets purchased.
Modern lifejackets of all types should be tested every time before they are worn. If they are 10 years old, destroy them and replace them.
Simple tests for all your lifejackets of all styles to do every time before you go on the water:
* Pull the straps, hard. If any of them stretch or tear, do not use the lifejacket, dispose of it, and replace it.
* Check for any existing tears or cuts in the straps. If there are any, do not use the lifejacket, dispose of it, and replace it.
* Check for tears, cuts, or punctures. If there are any, do not use the lifejacket, dispose of it, and replace it.
* Check if it floats. * More information about safety, storage, and details for checking inflatable lifejackets is at www.maritimenz.govt.nz/lifejackets