Coast Guard reminds mariners of PFD Maintenance

CHICAGO – U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago reminds all mariners, recreational and commercial, to conduct proper maintenance on their personal floatation devices, also know as life jackets.

The reminder is the direct result of an August 2007 incident where a deckhand, working on a commercial water taxi, fell overboard and her Stearns Model 1343 inflatable PFD did not automatically inflate nor was she able to manually inflate her PFD. The deckhand was rescued by a Coast Guard patrol boat and sustained minor injuries.

The Coast Guard Lifesaving and Fire Safety Standards Division investigated the cause of the non-functioning PFD and determined that the PFD was not properly maintained. The water activation mechanism was not armed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. All inflatable PFDs, like the one in this incident, need to be properly serviced and should be inspected thoroughly before each use to ensure it will work as designed in an emergency.

Proper maintenance of PFDs is extremely important for the health and safety of individuals who are involved with work or recreation on the waterways. Working PFDs can save lives by preventing persons who are unconscious, severely injured, or poor swimmers from drowning.

To ensure that your PFD is ready for use, read the maintenance instructions and service the PFD as needed. Federal requirements and safety tips for recreational boating can be found at www.uscgboating.org/safety/fedreqs/equ_pfd.htm. Coast Guard safety alerts and recall notices can be found at www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mse4/recall.htm.

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