A combined RNLI and fire safety clinic took place at Neyland Yacht Haven over the first weekend of August which was well attended. Max Jones Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer for Angle Station has provided a summary of the results below:
Checked - 79. So bad they were scrapped by the owners on the spot - 8. Serious faults - 16 (7 probably going to be binned). Minor faults easy to fix - 37. The others were generally ok but may have lacked lights or a spray hood. Sadly, 43 did not have crotch straps! It may appear to be a minor matter but without this strap the jacket will ride up and put your mouth too close to the water.
An important point came up during the clinic. Three lifejackets had been obtained with the purchase, second hand, of the boat. As there was no pull cord hanging down it was assumed the lifejackets were automatic activation types. They were not !! All were manual types with the pull cord pushed up inside the folded bladder out of the way! Like it or not the pull cord MUST be hanging down if you need to use it as you will not find it if it is tucked away. Sadly, we have the records to prove this. All recorded by Coroners Courts!
Many people still think automatic lifejackets will go off in a rain shower. Not so. Early automatics were not as stable but even then, most activations were due to lack of understanding. I'll give you the basic rules for maintaining reliable automatics.
1 - The activation bobbin does not last for ever! The dissolvable 'pill' that allows it to fire is absorbing moisture from the atmosphere so in time it may become too sensitive and go off when not expected. Change the bobbin each year or as required by an expiry date printed on it.
2 - Keep the lifejacket on a wood or plastic hanger in a dry and airy place when not in use. NOT in a damp locker!
3 - If the lifejacket gets wet, open it up, remove the bobbin and CO2 cylinder, sponge down the jacket with fresh water to remove the salt, dry the jacket, dry, clean and refit the bobbin and cylinder.
4 - Take a good look at your lifejacket. Now, think of it as a parachute and you as a 'sky diver'. Would you jump out of an aeroplane with a parachute that looked like that? Perhaps it's time for a new lifejacket.