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Old 07 October 2008, 14:38   #1
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Caution testing lifejackets

I recently visited the RNLI Training College in Poole and got talking to one of the staff there about testing lifejackets.

My employer every six months (it seems a lot less than that) collects in all our lifejackets and subjects them to an inspection. This includes looking for nicks and cuts but also inflation for 2 hours to check that they hold air. (They are serviced by Crewsaver in Gosport every 12 months on top of that!)

The RNLI fella said that we should be careful blowing up the lifejackets using our mouths as the moisture in our breath can collect in the bladders of the lifejackets giving rise to the material inevitably rotting.

Has anybody else heard about this? Is this a bit of an over reaction?

Chris
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Old 07 October 2008, 14:42   #2
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Has anybody else heard about this? Is this a bit of an over reaction?
Yes been mentioned here in the past too. Recommendation is to use a pump rather than mouth.
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Old 07 October 2008, 14:44   #3
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Yes this is what we have been advised, use a pump or moisture gets into the inflation
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Old 07 October 2008, 14:56   #4
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Technically correct, but in my experience it isn't a huge risk. When we've changed gas bottles inside the stoles of jackets that have regularly been inflated by mouth over long periods we've never found a problem.

I would suggest, though, that two hours isn't very long to leave a jacket inflated on test. Overnight is the general recommendation
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Old 07 October 2008, 16:24   #5
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i go around schools youth groups doing talks on lifeboats and beach sea safety ,and i have an old lifejacket which i manualy inflate to show how they work ,and in 12 years i have had no problem of the stole sticking together but this is on a regular basis ,a few times each month , , i think there is a good possibility of one sticking together if not used for a long time and stored pressed underneath heavy kit .one big possibility is of bacteria building up. some of the old ablj diving lifejackets of the past the ones that could be used for emergency breathing had some realy bad bacterial growth inside them from a survey done by a university back in the 1970s,but most was from sea water entering the stole by dump valves ,but with a normal lifejacket you wouldent be sucking the air back out or trying to breath from it . i think there is more risk of the fabric cracking and leaking on the folds than it rotting .the rnli lifejacket manual says every 3 months inflate to 1 psi which is the same as oral pressure and wait 2 hours for leakage,then test t 24 hours every 6months,
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Old 07 October 2008, 16:52   #6
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The RNLI fella said that we should be careful blowing up the lifejackets using our mouths as the moisture in our breath can collect in the bladders of the lifejackets giving rise to the material inevitably rotting.
nonsense....
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Old 07 October 2008, 19:51   #7
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nonsense....
actually as someone who has done the crewsaver maintainers course this is not nonsense its perfectly true

our trainer even had one that had started to rot
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Old 08 October 2008, 06:21   #8
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We always recommend customers use a (low-pressure!) pump rather than mouth to test inflate lifejackets.

Some years ago, when the cot death issue was at its height I was at a talk by a forensic scientist who found there were toxic fumes caused by bacteria in human fluids attacking substances in the plastic mattress covering. Whether the plastics are similar and the effect would be the same I don't know, but the idea of the material breaking down is enough for me.

Personally, I'd think why introduce a potential hazard when you don't need to?

Would also echo SeaSkills and say leave inflated overnight.
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Old 09 October 2008, 09:49   #9
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i suppose its what you have eaten the night before that causes the fabric to rot ,a vindaloo curry perhaps.
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Old 09 October 2008, 11:09   #10
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Just leaving a life jacket fully inflated over night is not enough.

Its pretty customary to

A/. Test them under pressure as when you fall in the water their will be the pressure of the sea trying to squeeze the air out of the valves.

B/. Having tested them fully inflated deflate 1/3 and test agin to ensure that the oral inflation valve still works when it has less internal pressure forcing it up.


I know the original thread said this test was in addition to the manafactureres annual test however I think its important for people to realise that self testing a life jacket is not as straight forward as you might initailly think.
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