When Should You Discard A PFD?

Stohlquist Edge Adult PFD Life Jacket

PFDs are safety devices that keep people buoyant in water. They are the number one defense against drowning, keeping people afloat even in turbulent waters. Having a functional PFD can thus not be overemphasized. Part of safety on the water is knowing when a PFD is no longer usable.

Using a PFD that is no longer functioning properly can prove disastrous as it can fail when you need it most, delivering you into the hands of the merciless currents. This article gives you insight into when your PFD is due for a change.

What Is A PFD?

A Personal Flotation Device, or PFD, is a life jacket that can be worn by anyone in open water. It is an important safety precaution for people who are swimming, boating, or sailing.

A PFD should be properly fitted and should fit snugly around the body to ensure proper buoyancy and drainage of water from the device.

A PFD can be inflatable or rigid, and it can be small enough to fit in a pocket or large enough to fit over the head. The purpose of a PFD is to keep the wearer afloat if they sink or become stranded in the water.

How Often Should You Wear A PFD?

PFDs are a life-saving necessity for everyone, regardless of experience or ability to swim. For those just starting out, it is important to heed the warnings of experienced swimmers and wear a PFD every time you take a dip.

There is no set amount of time that you need to keep wearing a PFD, as it depends on your level of experience and comfort level while swimming. When boating, it is very important to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times.

The US Coast Guard has recommendations for when you should wear a PFD, and these are as follows:

  • When using a motorboat under power, always wear a PFD.
  • When operating an inflatable boat without power or sail, always wear a PFD.
  • When operating a sailboat without power, always wear a PFD.
  • When boating with a boat equipped with an electric trolling motor, always wear a PFD.
  • When operating any type of personal watercraft, always wear a PFD.

It is important to know when to discard a PFD. A PFD should be discarded when it is no longer effective, or when it is not being used correctly. If it is damaged, wet, or dirty, it is time to get rid of it.

Also, if it is more than 5 years old, it is probably time for a new one. Remember to always read the manufacturer’s instructions, and to never overload a PFD. Make sure to always check the expiration date on your PFD, and replace it when necessary.

Make sure you are using the correct size PFD for your body type, and that you are wearing it properly. If your PFD has not been used in a while, consider replacing it before hitting the water especially if it is quite old.

Lastly, never swim alone. Always have a buddy with you in case of an emergency. Always stay safe while on the water by wearing your PFD!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should You Discard A PFD?

When you are finished using your PFD or it is no longer safe for use, it is important to discard it safely and responsibly. Here are five tips for discarding a PFD properly:

  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out how to safely discard the PFD.
  • Throw the PFD into a trash can or out of your vehicle window.
  • If you are kayaking or canoeing, release the safety latch and dump the PFD into the water.
  • If the PFD is made of flammable material, burn it in a controlled fire.
  • Dispose of a PFD in a way that does not create a hazard for others.

What Should You Do With A Torn Life Jacket?

If you are fishing or boating and your life jacket tears, there are a few things you should do. Tear the bottom of the life jacket so it can be tied off more easily.

If it is an inflatable life jacket, deflate it and put it in a trash bag. Throw the bag in the water and release the air from the life jacket.

Lastly, put on a new life jacket when you get back to shore.

If you find yourself with a torn life jacket, try the following. First, try to fix it as best you can, especially if you don’t have another one.

While a torn life jacket is dangerous, it is still better than no life jacket. If repairing it is not possible or if the damage is too great, you can throw it away and replace it with a new one.

Finally, if your life jacket is unusable because of damage or age, you should get rid of it and never use it again. It is a good idea to always have spare life jackets on board your vessel to account for emergencies.

How Often Should A Life Jacket Be Tested For Buoyancy?

Testing a life jacket for buoyancy is important to ensure that it will provide proper flotation in the event of an emergency.

Many life jackets are checked for buoyancy once a year, but it is important to check them more often if the person wearing the life jacket regularly participates in water sports or other activities that could result in accidental submersion.

Life jackets should be tested before each use and any repairs should also be checked for compliance with buoyancy requirements.

Lifejackets should be tested at least once every six months or when the manufacturer recommends, but more often if there are changes in the user’s weight or physique. It is a good idea to test your life jacket for buoyancy more often if you spend much time on the water.

How Long Do Inflatable Life Jackets Last?

Inflatable life jackets are often considered a life-saving tool and should be replaced as soon as they start to show signs of wear.

But how long do inflatable life jackets last? In actuality, inflatable life jackets generally last 10 years but might last longer depending on use and maintenance. It is however advised to change them as they approach the 10-year mark.

When Should A Life Jacket Be Discarded And Replaced?

Life jackets are an indispensable safety tool on the water. They are so important that almost all water safety regulations start with “Always wear a life jacket.” Life jackets however do stop being safe at some point in time and have to be replaced.

Anyone who loves spending time on the water must therefore be aware of when his PFD becomes less a safety device and more a dangerous tool so he can replace it and safely keep doing what he loves. Life jackets should be replaced:

When It Has Been Soiled Or Damaged Beyond Repair.

A life jacket should be replaced when it has been soiled or damaged beyond repair. It is important to remember that a life jacket is not just a piece of clothing, but rather a safety device.

It should consequently not be used if there is any doubt about its ability to protect its wearer in the water.

Life jackets should be stored in a cool, dry place. Following these simple guidelines will help you ensure that your life jacket is always in top condition and ready for use in an emergency.

If The Inflation Tube Has Been Removed Or Is No Longer Functioning.

When it comes to life jackets, it is important to ensure that they are always replaced if the inflation tube has been removed or is no longer functioning. This is because, without an inflation tube, a life jacket will not provide the necessary buoyancy and protection.

Damage to the inflation tube happens most often when the victim of a boating accident loses their grip on the inflated tube and it falls overboard, so always check for it and replace the life vest if necessary.

Life jackets should be checked for functionality regularly before use and always replaced at the appropriate time. When purchasing a new life jacket, be sure to choose one that has an inflation tube that is properly attached. And remember: always wear your life jacket when boating!

If The Straps Have Broken Or Deteriorated.

If you own a life jacket and the straps have broken or deteriorated, it’s time to replace it. The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that around 30% of all boating fatalities occur while people are wearing life jackets, so it’s important to make sure your gear is up to date.

This means inspecting the straps for wear, tears, and fraying; as well as replacing any band that has broken or deteriorated. As a soldier should always be prepared, you are to vigilantly ensure your life jacket is in top-notch condition to prepare for any eventuality.

If The Jacket Has Been In Use For An Excessive Period.

Life jackets should be replaced if they have been in use for an excessive period. This includes jackets that are used during fishing, boating, or other water-related activities. The lifespan of a well-maintained life jacket is typically 10 years.

Something else to keep in mind is that the longer the period you’ve been using your life jacket the likelier it is to be damaged by the elements. Over time, the fabric will wear and tear, and the waterproofing will be compromised.

A life jacket should always be used when necessary and replaced as soon as possible once deterioration sets in. It is important to keep this in mind when purchasing a life jacket as it may be time to replace it sooner than expected.

When It Shows A Reduction In Efficiency.

When used properly, life jackets are one of the most important safety tools a boater has. However, over time, even the most effective life jacket can lose its effectiveness. This is due to a variety of factors, such as wear and tear, exposure to the elements, and improper fit.

When this happens, it’s important to replace your life jacket as soon as possible to maintain your safety. Should you notice that your life vest doesn’t keep you afloat as easily as it once did, it’s time for a replacement.

On matters of safety, nothing is more important than ensuring that your life jacket is in top condition. Unfortunately, many people never replace their life jackets even when they start showing signs of reduced efficiency. Here are five signs that your life jacket should be replaced:

  • The fabric is stretched or thinning in areas.
  • There are holes or tears in the fabric.
  • The life jacket is fading or discoloring.
  • The stitching is coming out or missing in certain spots.
  • The straps are fraying at the edges.

These signs may be subtle and easy to miss, but noticing them on time and acting accordingly can save your life!

When The Manufacturer Said They Should.

When buying a life jacket, the manufacturer’s recommended time is typically the longest you should expect to use it. If you are a recreational boater, it is important to heed the advice of the manufacturer when it comes to life jackets.

Always replace your life jacket when the manufacturer tells you to, even if it is many years after the purchase. This is because even though your life jacket may look new, it may not be effective in keeping you afloat even if it has been properly maintained.

However, if it seems like a life jacket is not providing the protection it was designed to, it should be replaced. This way, you can rest assured that you are taking the most precautionary measures possible for your safety.

The Coast Guard recommends that life jackets be replaced if there are any noticeable tears or rips in the fabric. Life jackets should also be replaced if the material starts to deteriorate or if there is a significant change in the size, shape, or color of the life jacket. When in doubt, always replace your life jacket!

How Long Do Life Jackets Last?

Life jackets are important for many reasons, including the prevention of drowning. However, life jackets can only be used for a certain amount of time before they need to be replaced.

There is no one answer to this question since it depends on the type of life jacket and how it is being used. The lifespan of a life jacket can vary depending on the use and abuse it receives, but most typically they last 10-12 years.

Life jackets can last for many years (up to 10) if they are properly stored and maintained. Proper storage includes keeping them away from sunlight, heat, and moisture. Life jackets can also be checked for proper fit, inflation, and stitching every year.

If you’re ever stranded at sea with no life jackets, your only hope is to wait until someone comes to rescue you. But how long do life jackets last when in use in water? In most cases, they’ll only last for a few hours before they start to rot or become inoperable.

That means if you’re ever forced to spend a prolonged period stranded at sea, it’s important to remember to bring plenty of life jackets with you.

Why Do Life Jackets Require Regular Maintenance?

Regularly checking and maintaining life jackets is important to ensure they are effective in saving lives. Life jackets can provide a sense of security for people who are in danger, but if they are not properly maintained, they can become ineffective and even dangerous.

Here are five reasons why life jackets require regular maintenance:

  • Lifejackets can lose their ability to keep people safe if they are not properly inflated or if the inflation system malfunctions.
  • Lifejackets can become ineffective if they are damaged. If there is an issue with the life jacket, such as a rip or hole, it can be dangerous to use.
  • It is important to regularly inspect and maintain life jackets because of safety concerns.
  • The fact that they are wearing a life jacket helps most people have a sense of safety even when all hell breaks loose on the water. Discovering their life jacket has a malfunction at that time can severely damage morale and shatter calm causing them to panic and most likely make potentially fatal mistakes they ordinarily would not have made if their life jacket had been functional. The damaged vest consequently makes them worse off than those with no life jacket.

Lifejackets are meant to protect people from drowning, and as such, they must be kept in good condition to do their job.

Maintenance includes washing them regularly, checking for tears and damage, storing life jackets in a cool and dry place, and replacing worn or damaged seams or fabrics.

Regularly checking lifejackets also ensures that they function as intended and helps keep people safe on the water.

How Do You Maintain A Life Jacket?

Maintaining a life jacket is essential for those who want to keep them safe while boating or swimming. Life jackets come in many different shapes and sizes, but taking care of them typically is the same.

There are a few tips that can help you keep your jacket in good condition and avoid any repairs or replacements. They are:

  • Make sure it is stored properly. Avoid leaving it in the sun or indirect heat, as this will damage the fabric.
  • Be sure to clean it regularly with a mild detergent and water. Dry it immediately and store it away from the sun.
  • Check the straps and buckles regularly for wear and tear.
  • Clean the fabric if it becomes stained or covered in salt water.
  • Clip the zipper to make sure it does not open too far.
  • Inspect your life jacket for holes and tears.
  • Inspect your life jacket for signs of damage, such as fraying or torn fabric.
  • Follow any particular instructions for maintenance given by the manufacturer.

Can You Repair A PFD?

PFDs are essential for boaters, but they can be damaged in a variety of ways. If your PFD is damaged, you can usually repair it with a few simple tools.

However, if the damage is severe, you may need to replace the PFD:

  • Remove all the fabric from the damaged area.
  • Sew the fabric with a zigzag stitch, making sure to backstitch at the end of each stitch.
  • Trim the excess fabric.
  • Repair any tears or holes in the fabric.
  • Test the life vest for buoyancy to ensure it is still functional. If it isn’t, it should be replaced.

While PFDs can be repaired many a time, if the damage is great do not attempt to replace the life jacket. It is more prudent to replace the vest.

How Often Should The Inflator On A Type V Life Jacket Be Checked?

A type V life jacket is designed to provide buoyancy and protection from water in an emergency. One of the most important safety features of a type V life jacket is the inflatable inflation system.

This system must be checked regularly (at least once a month) to ensure it is functioning properly and keeping the person wearing it safe; needless to say, a malfunction from the life jacket could be fatal.

When inflated, the life jacket should be tight against the body and fit snugly. If it is not inflated correctly, the person could become trapped in the jacket if it were to violently inflate underwater.

While it is crucial to check the inflator on a type V life jacket monthly to make sure it is working properly and that there is enough air remaining, more frequent checks can be performed especially if the jacket is used frequently in cold water or if the wearer is experiencing difficulty breathing.

What Should You Do If A PFD Has A Tear In The Outer Fabric?

If you find a tear in the outer fabric of your Personal Flotation Device (PFD), the first thing to do is inspect the PFD for damage.

If the tear is small and does not affect the safety or function of the PFD, you can usually repair it yourself and keep using the PFD. For larger tears, you may need to replace the PFD.

If you are wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and it gets a tear in the outer fabric, follow these safety tips:

  • Stop using the PFD right away.
  • Remove the PFD as soon as possible.
  • Throw the PFD away where it cannot be reached by children or animals.
  • Seek medical attention if you experience any trouble breathing while swimming with a torn PFD.
  • Get a new PFD for your next time in the water.

What Causes A PFD To Wear Out Over Time?

PFDs (personal flotation devices) are designed to provide buoyancy and help keep swimmers safe in the event of a drowning emergency.

However, like any other piece of equipment, they can wear out over time. Different people have different ideas on what causes a PFD to wear out over time.

Some people believe that the material that the PFD is made of causes it to deteriorate, while others say that improper use or lack of care can lead to the PFD’s premature failure. In either case, proper maintenance is essential if a PFD is expected to last for an extended period.

Causes of PFD wear include abrasion from contact with rocks or other objects, use, exposure to salt water, age, and use in high-stress environments. When these factors combine, the fabric and foam can become damaged and ineffective.

Abrasion From Contact With Rocks Or Other Objects

When out on the water, it is important to take into account the potential for abrasion. This type of damage can lead to a PFD weakening over time, potentially causing serious injuries to the wearer.

Sailing or swimming in areas with rocks can cause your PFD to tear due to repeated contact with the rocks; they will slowly but surely destroy the life jacket. Here are five tips to help reduce the chances of encountering this type of danger:

  • Wear a PFD that is designed for rock climbing or other similar activities.
  • Use a suitable life jacket when swimming in areas with rocky shores.
  • Wear a PFD that is suited to your body size and weight.
  • Wear the proper PFD under clothing.
  • Keep the PFD in a dry bag when not in use, so it is ready if needed.

Continued Use 

The use of personal flotation devices (PFDs) has increased significantly in recent years, as more people have become aware of their importance. However, the widespread use of PFDs has also led to an increased number of complaints about their wear and tear; and this is to be expected.

The life expectancy of a PFD decreases with every use, and users typically wear them for only a fraction of their lifetime. Repeated exposure to chlorine and salt water can lead to deterioration in the materials and stitching. In addition, water can seep into the seams and cause them to fail.

Like all things, life jackets have a defined life span and will eventually even with proper care and maintenance be unable to provide the safety they once could and must then be replaced.

Exposure To Salt Water 

When people are out in salt water, their skin and clothes are constantly wet and salty. This can cause materials to wear out quickly if they are not protected.

When PFDs are first designed, they are made of sturdy materials that can withstand exposure to salt water. However, over time these materials naturally become worn out and ineffective.

Their continued exposure to salt water and the elements eventually overwhelms them such that they can no longer keep people properly afloat and must be changed.


Over time, a personal flotation device (PFD) will wear out from use or disuse, becoming less effective and more susceptible to failure. Age is one of the main factors that can contribute to a PFD’s deterioration.

Many people assume that a PFD will last indefinitely, but this is not always the case. Several things can damage a PFD over time, including tears in the material, corrosion, and general wear and tear.

The older a life jacket gets, the less likely it is safe for use. Manufacturers often include when their product is due for a change so sailors can know when to replace their life jackets and stay safe on the water.

Use In High-Stress Environments

PFDs are lifesaving devices, but they can also be life-sapping devices if not used properly. The main reason for this is that PFDs are designed to keep people afloat in water if they experience an unexpected loss of buoyancy.

However, the constant strain on the fabric and zippers from constantly wearing them in high-stress environments can cause them to wear out over time.

PFDs worn in high-stress environments can wear out with time due to the constant stress on the fabric and straps. The fabric can wear out prematurely, causing the PFD to become less effective.

The straps can also become stretched or torn, leading to the PFD becoming ineffective. To keep your PFD functioning properly, it is important to take care of it and keep it clean.

When Should You Replace The CO2 Cylinder In An Inflatable PFD?

There are a few factors to consider when answering this question. The first is the age of the PFD.

If it’s less than five years old, then it likely still has a good amount of life left in the CO2 cylinder. Rather than spending money on a new cylinder, you might consider replacing the PFD altogether.

Another factor to consider is how often you use your PFD.

Ultimately, the answer, unfortunately, depends on the make and model of your PFD.

Some manufacturers recommend replacing the CO2 cylinder every 5 years or 50 hours of use; others recommend replacing it every year or 10 hours of use. In general, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s instructions when replacing your CO2 cylinder.

If you’re still unsure of when to replace the CO2 cylinder of your inflatable PFD, it is safe practice to replace it every three to five years. Remember to always wear your Flotation Device on the water.

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