Life Jackets are an essential part of your yacht’s safety equipment. The US Coast Guard requires that there be a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) for each person aboard your vessel. There are Types I, II, III, or V PFDs. Which type you need and how many, are determined by the size of your boat. You can see which you need, and a complete breakdown of other mandated gear here on the list of US Coast Guard Minimum Requirements for Recreational Boats.
However, just having the right kind and the right number of PFDs on board, may keep you in compliance with the government regulations, but it does not guarantee your safety or that of your family in the event of an emergency. Like almost all of your yacht’s safety gear, your life jackets need to be inspected regularly.
If you think this is not something you need to take seriously, The U.S. Coast Guard recently inspected two vessels in Key West, Florida and found that more than 60 lifejackets had deteriorated to the point were they we unusable, and had to be removed from the vessels and destroyed.
Why do PFDs Need to Be inspected?
The PFDs on your luxury motor yacht need to be inspected because the foam material inside that provides buoyancy, can break down over time, even when the jackets are stored properly. This can be a problem particularly here in the Florida heat. In the case of the incidents described above, a US Coast Guard Safety Alert was issued which said, “It was discovered that the unicellular foam buoyant material within the nylon outer shell had degraded significantly over time, broke apart, crumbled and in some instances was reduced to dust. The lifejackets were properly stored, kept dry, and not under direct sunlight; however, the location was very hot at times…”
The life jackets in question were Type 1, 160RT model distributed by “The Safeguard Corporation” of Covington, Kentucky and were nine years old. The company had the vests manufactured in China, but is now no longer in business.
Still, no matter what brand, type or where your life vests have been made, according to the USCG, they should be inspected regularly for Compression, Resiliency or Shrinkage.
- Compression – Constant compression can cause degradation of a lifejacket’s foam. Make sure to store these items in an area where they will not be under too much pressure.
- Loss of Resiliency – Loss of resiliency consists of excessively hard, stiff or brittle foam in lifejackets. If the lifejacket doesn’t expand back to its original form after compression, it’s likely lost its efficacy.
- Shrinkage – You can detect a physical reduction in size if you see “wrinkling” of the coating on vinyl dipped type PFDs, or by a loose fitting outer shell on a fabric-covered lifejacket.
The USCG Safety Alert also warns to check the manufacturer of your life vests, and any that are made by “The Safeguard Corporation,” should be thoroughly checked, and if they are more than nine years old, probably discarded and replaced.
On Demand Yachting Provides Peace of Mind
When it comes to making sure you and all of your guests are as safe as possible, having the right safety gear on board is only part of the equation. In the unlikely event it is ever needed, you must also ensure that the gear is ready and operational. That means PFDs need to be checked and replaced, fire extinguishers maintained and recharged as necessary, first aid kits restocked, etc.
Maintaining your yachts safety gear at operational readiness is just one of the services you can count on from our On Demand Yachting Solution.
Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.