Life­jack­ets need check­ing

Waipa Post - - News -

New Zealand’s na­tional Safer Boat­ing Week, from 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,” says Safer Boat­ing Fo­rum chair­woman Sharyn Forsyth.

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,” Sharyn says.

“Wor­ry­ingly, we know many Kiwi boat­ies are still re­ly­ing on kapok­filled 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.

Mod­ern life­jack­ets of all types should be tested ev­ery time be­fore they are worn. Sim­ple tests 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 if it floats

More in­for­ma­tion about safety, stor­age, and for check­ing in­flat­able life­jack­ets is at www.mar­iti­menz. govt.nz/life­jack­ets.

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