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Servicing Your Life Jacket
When was the last time that you checked your life jacket?
If you have an automatic life jacket the cartridge which contains a substance which will dissolve if you and the life jacket enter the water firing the jacket has a limited life, normally about two years. The cartridge will have an expiry date printed on it. Manufactures often suggest when you replace the cartridge you also replace the CO2 cylinder, in any case you should periodically check the cylinder for damage and weigh it to confirm it weighs what it should, the weight will be printed on the cylinder, this confirms no gas has escaped.
Most jackets have two green indicators, a green clip on the side of the firing mechanism and a green disc on the bottom of the automatic cartridge (manual life jackets normally just have the clip), if either is missing it indicates the jacket has been fired and the CO2 cylinder is probably empty.
You should also unfold your jacket and check for any signs of wear or damage, inflate the jacket, either by firing it if you are going to replace the gas cylinder or manually, modern materials mean there’s no danger of the insides of the bladder sticking together with moisture from your breath, but you may still prefer using a bicycle pump, leave for 12 hours and check for leaks. Never use anything like a compressor to inflate the jacket the valves are fragile. Deflate the jacket, normally by putting the dust cap into the tube upside down which will open the valve and carefully fold back up (the most difficult job!)
It is normally very easy to replace cartridge and cylinders or to rearm the jacket after firing, rearming kits cost about £20, money well spent to ensure your life jacket works as it should.
See this video of how easy it is https://youtu.be/ChIVP5fq_fA