A properly working PFD can save your life. It’s vitally important to maintain your PFD over the years and to know when it is time to invest in a new one.
First, it’s important to give the PFD a wash with fresh water after a day on the water, especially after an outing on salt water. Even if you were on fresh water, however, salt can build up via sweat. Give it a wash. If needed, use a mild soap and rag to wipe down the PFD.
Second, make sure to hang dry the PFD before storing it. Many standard flotation devices are made of foam that can break down more rapidly if stored wet and inundated with saltwater.
Third, once the PFD is dry, store it in a shaded, well-ventilated location. UV light from the sun can significantly shorten the lifespan on a PFD if left to bake on the side of the house.
We suggest hanging them, if possible. This keeps the likelihood of the PFD getting stuffed in a corner, sat on, etc. to a minimum. Many types of mold find the foam in PFDs to be the perfect breeding ground. Hanging in a storage closet or somewhere similar is the best way to ensure a long life for your investment.
Even a well cared for PFD eventually needs to be replaced. A sun faded PFD should be closely inspected. Just because it’s sun faded doesn’t mean it HAS be replaced, but it tends to be a first sign. You should inspect the foam and make sure that it is not brittle and hard. If you compress the foam, it should quickly return to its original state. If it doesn’t, it is probably time to invest in a new PFD.
Lastly, don’t sit on, or in any other way compress the PFD. If you can’t hang the PFD to store it, make sure that it isn’t stored under anything that might slowly compress the foam.
Are you thinking your old PFD might need to be retired? Bring it in to us for a second opinion and quick inspection.*
*Please note, we are not certified by the US Coast Guard to officially inspect and verify the safety of used PFD’s. Our rule of them, just like leftovers in the fridge, when in doubt throw it out.