Care and Maintenance of Inflatable PFDs

The CPS-ECP Boating Resource

I often get asked if regular care and maintenance is necessary for inflatable PFDs. Here is a rather lengthy answer to the question and some recommendations.

Inflatable (PFDs) are preferred by many boaters because they are very comfortable to wear and this often outweighs their higher cost. They can save a life and in Canada, when the vessel is underway and the wearer is on deck, they are only approved when worn. They are not approved for use by people under the age of 16 and those operating personal watercraft. However many users are not aware that they need a level of regular care and maintenance.
Automatic inflatables are activated by a combination of a chemical bobbin and a carbon dioxide cylinder. The bobbin dissolves when immersed in a liquid. This allows a spring loaded firing pin to puncture the CO2 cartridge which in turn inflates the PFD in about…

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