Expiration dates on Auto-inflate PFDs

Published on April 8th, 2021

Every inflatable personal flotation device has its own distinct inspection regimen. Darrell Nicholson in Practical Sailor explains:


Planning for an upcoming season of sailing or a summer cruise involves a review of all the ship’s safety equipment, and many essential safety items have components that expire or need to be replaced at regular intervals regardless of whether they were used (MOB light batteries, for example). The need for these expiration dates and their impact on sailors wallets are a topic for later debate. In this post, I’ll offer some images depicting common inspection points to add to your routine.

Clearly, having an inflatable personal flotation device (PFD) on board is worthless if you haven’t maintained it to ensure proper operation. And maintenance, in the case of many of today’s inflatable PFDs and PFD-harness combos, means ensuring that the components are not expired. Before starting your inspection, check with the manufacturer for the protocol that they recommend, and review the owners’ manuals. Most manufacturers will have a website or blogpost describing the inspection protocol. Here, for example, are the inspection routines that Mustang, a leading manufacturer of marine safety equipment recommends for its PFDs: Full report

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