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The Transport for NSW OLD4NEW program will again be hitting the road this
summer, stopping at key locations around NSW to showcase new lifejacket
designs. The program, which kicked off in 2013, allows the public to trade in
damaged or old-style lifejackets for new ones at a discount. The van has now
visited over 225 sites across the State and sold over 11,000 modern, slim line
With more people now wearing lifejackets than ever before, unnecessary deaths
from boating are on the decline. It’s a simple fact that lifejackets dramatically
increase your chances of survival following capsize, swamping or falling
overboard. That’s why Transport for NSW and industry have been working
together on initiatives like this, which encourage lifejacket wear.
What is equally important is ensuring that lifejackets are well looked after,
serviced regularly and fit for purpose. This summer, the OLD4NEW van will have
an added emphasis on promoting correct care and servicing of lifejackets.
Lifejackets are now available in a wide range of modern styles from slimline
foam to easy-to-wear inflatable models. Inflatable lifejackets in particular are
now becoming more popular as they are easy to wear, don’t get in the way
and are increasingly affordable. However, you should be aware that inflatables
require extra care, maintenance and service. It is a case of personal responsibility
for your own safety kit.
In fact, without appropriate servicing, inflatable lifejackets may not work as
intended when most needed. All it takes is something like a fish hook to pierce
the bladder or a loose gas bottle to prevent them from inflating.
Recent coronial findings into a boating fatality in Tasmania highlighted the
importance of servicing your lifejacket. The person was boating alone and fell
overboard into cold water. The unfortunate man in this instance was wearing an
inflatable lifejacket for which the CO2 gas cylinder had worked itself partly loose.
While it appears that the victim did not get a chance to inflate his lifejacket, the
Coroner found that it is likely it would not have activated as designed because of
the loose cylinder. The particular lifejacket involved in this incident had not been
serviced for many years.
The Coroner noted that the servicing of inflatables as well as regular inspection
and checking by the owner is essential. You should always check your lifejacket
before heading out on the water. Not only are you legally required to service your
inflatable lifejacket in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, but most
importantly, it may save your life.
How to service?
Unless the manufacturer specifies, you
should get your lifejacket serviced at
least once a year. If you can’t remember
when you bought your inflatable
lifejacket or when it was last serviced,
then it’s a good idea to get it serviced
You should keep all your servicing
receipts and certificates as evidence of
the service. That way, you can always
verify the servicing if you ever need
to. If you don’t, you could be falling
short of the safety requirements as
well as putting both yourself and your
passengers at risk.
Some lifejacket manufacturers ask that you get your lifejacket serviced by them
or an authorised agent. It means your lifejacket will be maintained properly and
kept in good working order.
When your lifejacket is being serviced, thorough checks will be carried out to
ensure components such as the bladder, reflective tapes, buckles and straps are
all up to standard. The servicer will also make sure both the inflation system and
oral inflation tube are operating correctly.
Some manufacturers allow you to service the lifejacket yourself. However, you
need the necessary ability, knowledge and skill before attempting this. Otherwise
it’s recommend you get it serviced professionally.
If you are self servicing an inflatable lifejacket, follow the manufacturer’s
instructions carefully and make sure the recharge kit matches your lifejacket.
If a service record is available on the inside of the jacket, sign and date it with a
permanent marker. If not, you might like to make a paper record of your own and
keep a copy handy on board the vessel in case you need to show it to a Boating
The self servicing of a lifejacket is only valid if the manufacturer allows it and if
you keep all servicing receipts and certificates as documentary evidence of the
service occurring. Failure to do so makes verifying servicing impossible.
If you are using inflatable lifejackets, remember to keep them clean and dry
between each use. This is particularly important with auto inflating models
because these can sometimes self inflate when they’re left damp, for example
inside a wet vessel.
Remember too that not only inflatable’s, but all lifejackets are susceptible to the
elements. Lifejackets are subjected to the heat of the sun and the harshness of
salt. Such conditions can result in damage if the jacket isn’t properly looked after.
Take the time to look after your gear, treat it like your personal kit, and ensure it’s
always in good condition and ready to wear.
OLD4NEW LIFEJACKET PROGRAM
For further guidance on servicing, or to upgrade your lifejackets, head along
to the OLD4NEW van as it makes its way to your area this boating season.
A full list of the van’s schedule will be published in late September at
Corrosion such as this can cause
an inflatable to fail. Proper care
and service can prevent this from
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