Transcript - Looking after your lifejacket

These days inflatable lifejackets are super popular - and for good reason.
They're not bulky. They're comfortable. And they give you freedom to move.

Andrew, it's the lifejacket you wear when you're not wearing a lifejacket. They have revolutionised what we know about these kinds of garments. But like any part of your safety equipment, you have to look after them!

In the past 10 years the popularity of inflatable lifejackets has exploded. Yokes, vests, jackets and even belt styles are all available.
And compared to the inherently buoyant foam jackets, offer the wearer greater flexibility and freedom of movement.

But it's worth remembering that if your inflatable lifejacket doesn't inflate when you need it to - It's… well, just a jacket!
Inflatable lifejackets make it really comfortable for everyday boating. But they do have parts that need to be maintained and serviced.

What we require is that inflatable lifejackets are serviced in accordance with the manufacturers specifications and they should be maintained and checked over regularly by the owner. So they key point is to make sure your jackets are serviced as per the manufacturer's guidelines.

Because different manufacturers have different requirements, finding the right information is critical.
The best place to find out about servicing your particular jacket is to check with the manufacturer, which you can usually do via their website.
On there, they will have information about the servicing requirements, and also the servicing network around Victoria and Australia.

By and large, all inflatable lifejackets work on the same principle:
When deployed, a firing pin pierces a small cylinder of compressed CO2 gas.
This then inflates an air bladder, which provides the all-important buoyancy.
Your jacket might be a manually inflating jacket where you need to pull a toggle to inflate it.
Or it could be an automatic jacket where the device will fire automatically when it comes into contact with water.
It's a worthwhile and simple process to become familiar with the inner workings of your inflatable jackets.

Alright, so we've made our purchase – now it's time to get to know our inflatable…
Paul, we shouldn't be scared of these things.
That's right Andrew, they really are a simple operation.
What do you want us to do? Actually open them up?
Yes, that's right. Get to know your jacket.

Look inside the valance.
Check the bladder to make sure that it's in good condition and free from damage.
And check the firing mechanism itself.

So how do we do that?
Well, the cylinder here we need to check to make sure it's free from rust and tight within its housing.
And the firing mechanism here, we need to make sure that the green tabs are in place so that we know it's ready to go should we need it.
Well this one looks good to go. I'm going boating!

How often should we do this check?
Well, there's no reason why you shouldn't do it every time before you go boating!
Once you're happy that the mechanical bits are in good order there is another simple test that you can do at home.
Alright, so your inflatable lifejacket is a bit like a balloon or a lilo… if it's got a hole in it, it won't work properly.

And there's an easy way to test that.
If you open it up, inside here you will find the bladder.
And on this one – on all of them, in fact – is an oral inflation tube.
Now this serves two very important functions.
First and foremost if you go in the water and you pull the cord and the lifejacket doesn't blow up, you can use this tube to inflate it manually.

You can also use the tube to test it.
If you blow this jacket up, leave it overnight in your house and come back in the morning and it's still blown up, your bladder's OK.
If it's gone down, you've got a problem.

Of course, as the skipper of a vessel you need to make sure that there's a correct lifejacket on board for each and every crew member and it's a good idea with inflatable jackets to make sure everyone knows how to use them before you head out.
If people are not familiar with boating and therefore not familiar with the jacket, you really need to almost put one on and go through step by step how you buckle it up, how it fits over your torso, how you get into it like a suit, and most importantly, how to pull the firing mechanism.

Assuming of course that you've checked that all your crew are going to have a safe jacket to put on in the first place!
If you haven't joined the inflatable revolution and prefer the low maintenance benefits of a foam 'zip and clip' jacket there are still a few things to bear in mind:
'Zip and clip' jackets do require some care also.
They need to be kept so that they are free from chemicals, which can react with the foam, as well as kept in a position on a boat where they are not squashed by other equipment which will reduce the effectiveness of the buoyancy.

In the case of all types of jackets, if you're not sure of its condition, don't use it until you've had it checked out by a qualified person.
So remember: Wear your lifejacket or others wear the consequences.