Lifejackets Need Love Too
Summer 2012 message from volunteer Sea Safety Officer, Peter Williams:
Summer is nearly here and many of us have spent recent months preparing our pride and joy for the water. Polished, greased, anti fouled and with that extra gadget or new toy installed the summer sun and boating pleasure is eagerly anticipated.
But lifejackets need some attention too. Lifejacket clinics run by the RNLI around the country show that around 30-35% of all lifejackets brought for inspection do not meet manufacturer’s specification or would fail to work when required i.e. in an emergency.
Out of date auto trigger mechanisms, empty or badly corroded bottles, loose or even missing gas bottles are just some of the problems identified at our clinics.
At the very least lifejackets should be inflated once a year (use the dinghy pump or similar to avoid moisture entering the bladder through oral inflation) and the jacket should stay firmly inflated for at least 12 hours.
Check the cylinder and firing head to make sure they have not been “fired”. The correct weight is marked on the cylinder and can be checked using postal scales or similar. Auto inflate cartridges are marked with an expiry date so are easily checked. There are many different types of firing head so it pays to study the maker’s instructions.
To work effectively – that is help keep you afloat – a lifejacket should be fitted with crutch straps to help keep it in the correct position. Spray hoods can be retro fitted and provide protection for the face and mouth in spray and breaking seas.
All lifejackets should have a whistle attached and the addition of a flashing/strobe light will make the chances of rescue much better in darkness.
Most good chandlers can supply spares and extras and can also arrange for servicing to keep your lifejacket in fully serviceable condition,
Hopefully you will never need to try your lifejacket in real emergency situation, but if you do you will be glad that you showed that little bit of love to your lifejacket.
Lots of White Boats
RNLI lifeboats launch on average around 8000 times a year. Many of these launches are to leisure craft and as you might expect our busiest months are during the summer. For the search crews trying to locate a “casualty” the more information that is known about the vessel the more effective the rescue is likely to be.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency offer a free registration service for your vessel – whatever it is.
Just type CG66 into a UK search engine and follow the HM Coastguard Safety Identification Scheme link – details of you, your vessel, normal cruising area and crew strength together with the safety and communication equipment carried and a photograph of your vessel can be easily uploaded onto the MCA database. In the event of an emergency or distress situation this information can be quickly passed to rescue services enabling them to operate with as complete a picture of the situation as possible
Remember there are a lot of white boats and lot of those have white sails – so give your potential rescuers a chance – thanks.