Do Life Jackets Expire: No

Life Jackets

The owner of the boat is responsible for ensuring that it is fit for both recreational use and legal use. Your boat needs life jackets, which is crucial. However, repeated use, damage, and extended exposure to the elements render life jackets ineffective over time. Life jackets do not have a shelf life. Official expiration dates do not exist for life jackets. Read this article and learn more about your life jackets.

Do Life Jackets Expire

The material inside the vest gradually loses its ability to maintain buoyancy in water, so technically speaking, the life jacket will not expire.

The material in a foam life jacket degrades over time and loses buoyancy due to constant use. Due to this, it may perform significantly worse and fail to protect a person from drowning.

As a result, it is advised that you store your PDFs somewhere cool and dry. You must also only use them for the purpose for which they were designed.

A carbon dioxide (CO2) tank is typically used to self-inflate inflatable life jackets. Always look for the tank replacement date when purchasing an inflatable life jacket because these tanks have a lifespan of one to three years. Don’t forget to check the tank for corrosion or other damage as well.

Every single student who attends the Aquastream swim school learns the value of water safety. In accordance with Canadian law, every person using a watercraft must be outfitted with a life jacket or other personal flotation device (PDF).

It is significant to remember that your best line of defense against cold-water shock will be a life jacket. The study found that sudden exposure to cold water can pose a serious risk to life, regardless of the boater’s experience or skills.

Because unexpectedly plunging into cold water can negatively impact your breathing, nerves, and muscle strength.

How To Test Your Life Jacket

Do you own a life jacket that you haven’t worn in a while and keep at home? Before using it on your boating trip, it is best to test it.

If you have a foam life jacket, the first thing you should do is put it on and make sure it fits comfortably.

By simply donning your life jacket, you can test its buoyancy by wading out into chest-deep water and trying to float on your back while under supervision.

Ensure that you can breathe easily and that your flotation device keeps your chin above the water. 

You must also be careful that the vest does not rise above your shoulders. You should replace the life jacket if, during the test, you discover that it is not allowing you to float safely. Since the foam inside is no longer buoyant, this is the root cause of the issue.

To ensure that no matter what position you’re in, swimming will keep you afloat, practice swimming on your stomach and back. 

Make sure everyone is comfortable in their PFD and that it will function if necessary if you are responsible for any children by having them follow suit. 

  • Inflatable Lifejacket swim test

Through the oral tube valve, you can build and rebuild your lifejacket. Until the bladder is fully inflated, blow air into it.

Then perform the water test to see if it can keep your head above water. While you’re in the water, keep an eye out for bubbles to see if the bladder is leaking.

It’s a good idea to blow up your jacket at home for an entire night once every few months to make sure it can hold air.

Inflatable life jackets, as the name implies, are supplied with tiny gas bottles that cause the vest to inflate right away.

Carbon dioxide is most frequently the gas. (The gas bottle should ideally be replaced every one to three years, according to the majority of inflatable life jacket manufacturers.

As you can see, they require more upkeep than foam ones but are more effective and less bulky when deflated. 

Life Jackets

Other elements, such as general wear and tear, corrosion, and dirt particles that can obstruct the gas bottle’s nozzle, can also have an impact on its general performance. It is essential to check the bottle for corrosion and damage every month or two because of this.

How To Maintain Life Jackets

Regularly wash your life jackets in mild soap and water, then hang them to dry. Never put a life jacket in the dryer. The material used to create them may be damaged by heat as a result. 

How Often Should Life Jackets Be Replaced

The answer to this query largely depends on usage. Lifejackets should be replaced after roughly 12 to 24 months or when they begin to exhibit significant wear, depending on how frequently dinghy sailors or kayakers use them over the course of the summer and winter training seasons. 

The best value in terms of safety, durability, and affordability can be found by purchasing a lifejacket that is specially made for your watersport.

The purpose-specific and robust life jackets in the Vaikobi PFD Lifejacket collection are made to keep up with even the most active paddlers and sailors. 

The VX Race PFD Life Jacket for dinghy sailors has a slim, fashionable profile and is made of a material that is incredibly durable for maximum comfort and performance. It will fit snugly and securely thanks to the neoprene side and shoulder panels.  

The V3 Ocean Racing PFD Life Jacket for paddle sports is extremely light and breathable, with padded shoulders, form-fitting foam, and a hydration compartment on the back. The ISO 12402-5 certification (50N buoyancy) is available for all Vaikobi life jackets.

On yachts and larger vessels, life jackets are stored or worn less frequently, so they don’t need to be replaced as frequently. 

The best way to determine whether an inflatable PFD needs to be replaced is to have it serviced annually to make sure the bladder, CO2 cylinder, reflective tapes, buckles, and straps are all in good working order. 


You now know that life jackets do have an expiration date, and that date primarily depends on the life jackets’ capacity to float above the water.

After using your personal flotation device, make sure to wash it with clean water and dry it completely to prevent rapid deterioration. By routinely inspecting and replacing buoyancy aids, you can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your friends safe while out on the water. 

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