What Causes A PFD To Wear Out Over Time?

Last Updated on March 8, 2021 by

A PFD (personal floatation device) is one of the essential items that every boat owner should have, for you and your passengers. However, repeated use and exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation causes this vital device to wear out over time. High temperatures may also cause the degradation of the inside foam. 

The sun destroys the synthetic fiber used to make most PFDs. When you leave your device under the sun for too long, its color starts to fade. It is advisable, therefore, to keep your floatation device away from the sun.

Humidity and moisture are other factors that cause the wearing out of your PFD over time. If you store your buoyant materials without allowing them to dry, the humidity causes them to wear out, and they won’t float well. Moisture also causes your life jacket to be full of mildew and to get moldy. Make sure that you air-dry your PFDs entirely before storing to prolong their life.

Caring For Your PFDs

Taking care of your PFDs helps them last longer and ensure your safety and that of your passengers on the water if you are a boat owner. Here’s what to do;

1. Checking Your PFDS Before Use

Before going out on your boat, make sure that you test your floatation devices. Ensure that the tools are safe to use and that they will float. If you have an inflatable PFD, make sure that it does not have any air-leaks before embarking on a boating trip. Check for mold or mildew in the synthetic fiber before using it on the water.

For your inflatable PFD, check the inflator’s status and ensure that the CO2 cylinder is full, it does not leak, and it is also tightly screwed in. You can also check for leaks in the device by inflating it after removing the cylinder. The Floating jacket should remain firm for several hours. 

Test your device’s buoyancy in shallow water or a swimming pool. Inspect the jackets frequently for tears or rips, weak or discolored fiber, insecure zippers or straps, as well as illegible labels. If any PFD has a problem, discard and replace it.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions guide to give your device regular maintenance. 

2. Proper Storage 

Proper storage of your PFDs will help to prolong their life. Make sure that the life jackets are dry before storing them in a cool, dry location. You also need to keep them away from direct sunlight. You can keep the devices either in boxes on your boat or in your garage if you use them for recreational activities such as kayaking.

3. Do Not Tamper With Your PFD

Avoid altering your floatation device as this will affect its integrity and make it non-compliant to Coat Guard regulations. Do not tamper with the PFD if it does not fit your passenger but instead consider buying a new one. 

4. Cleaning

Cleaning your PDF after every use is also vital to keep it in good condition and working. Use soapy, clean water, and a soft surface brush to remove the dirt. Drain the water after washing and dry with a clean towel before storing it. A well-cared-for device stays longer than one that is handled without any care.

How Often Should I Replace My PFD?

A PFD has no expiry date, and every care you give it helps to lengthen its use. But if you repair or alter this device, it becomes void and no longer usable. You should thus replace and discard your floatation device for recycling when it is not safe for use anymore.

Repairing or altering your PFD compromises its efficiency since no control method verifies the quality of repair or alteration.

If your PFD is weak or worn due to prolonged use, exposure, or improper storage, you need to replace it. If your shoulder strap material breaks down, it becomes hazardous to use the device.

Another reason why you need to replace your PFD is when it loses its buoyancy. If the floatation and foam break down for various reasons, it is time to buy a new one. Ensure that you check your item every year, but you should not use it for more than 5-years. A PFD’s buoyancy is rated at 15.5 lbs that is the average weight of a human head. Your PFD should support your head comfortably above the water with the chin exposed.  

Benefits Of A Personal Floatation Device

A personal floatation device has various benefits, and every boat owner should have one for themselves and their passengers. Here’s why it is essential;

1. It Saves Lives

A PFD is not an all-time outfit but one that is designed for specific purposes. The gear is essential to keep you floating on water. It is mostly used by the marine rescue team, those learning how to swim, and for other water activities like kayaking.

According to statistics, most deaths from drowning are as a result of lack of PFDs. It is, therefore, vital to have a PFD when sojourning on the water.

2. Improves Your Swimming Training

A personal floatation device is an essential part of swimming training kits. Swimming is exciting and fun, but it is also risky if one does not know how to swim. One can quickly lose a life by jumping into a pool without a floatation device when you are a beginner swimmer.

Make sure you have a PFD if you want to learn how to swim safely. You can either purchase one or acquire from the swimming center. This item enables you to move around the pool and even in the deepest part as it lets you float and protect you from drowning.


A personal flotation device helps to save a life when used on water. Ensure that you handle it with care for it to last longer and to prevent wearing out. Always keep it away from direct sunshine as exposure to ultraviolet radiation spoils the fiber. Clean and adequately dry before storing the tool to prevent molding and mildew.

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