THE BOAT DOC­TOR

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How do I keep my au­to­matic life jack­ets from in­flat­ing all by them­selves?

Tom Jones

War­renville, Illi­nois

A:Hi Tom. First of all, which spe­cific mod­els do you have? Some are full-time au­to­matic. Oth­ers are man­ual/au­to­matic (m/a). And there are other vari­ables. If you have m/a mod­els, read the di­rec­tions for dis­abling the auto fea­ture of the in­fla­tion de­vice. If they are au­to­matic only, then they are getting wet or de­fec­tive and need to be re­placed, or are the wrong type of in­flater for your use. (Older auto mod­els might in­flate in rain or spray, which is not good for some kinds of boat­ing.) In that case, a man­ual model may make more sense. Or newer auto mod­els have a hy­dro­static re­lease, which in­flates un­der wa­ter pres­sure, not wet­ness. It will not in­flate un­til it sub­merges a cou­ple of feet. This makes hy­dro­static-re­lease mod­els more suitable for wet decks and wet weather than older mod­els with the dis­solv­ing pill.

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