Transcript - Inflatable lifejacket self-service clinic
Presented by Ray Lonsdale and Pete Bennett.
[00:00:00] Ray: Welcome everyone. I'm Ray. And this is Pete. Hello. We're boating education officers for Transport Maritime. And we're here tonight to host the inflatable lifejacket servicing clinic for you. So, what you are going to need is you're going to need your lifejackets with you. And now with the inflatable lifejackets, what we've found is in recent years, they've become a much more popular option when it comes to having lifejackets on your vessel. They're far more comfortable. They are a lot more lightweight, but with them comes a little bit of added responsibility of servicing. And that's what we're here to demystify for you tonight. We're here to run through the servicing. There are a lot of different brands on the market, a lot of different designs.
So what you're going to need to do is check first that your manufacturer allows for you to do self-servicing. Some manufacturers want you to take it to a servicing agent, and if that's the case, then what you'll need to do is refer back to them to find out who their recognized agents are. If you are allowed to do a self-service, what you'll find is on their website or it may have come with the jacket already, they'll have a self-service certificate - it looks similar to this. (Ray holds up a certificate.)
There will be variations. And what this is - this works like a checklist. So what you'll do is you'll follow this step-by-step, signing it all off, and once it's complete, you actually keep that, keep that on your boat with you. If you can stick it into a glad bag, like a Ziploc bag or something, it's always handy to keep it there so it's proof and recognition that you have done a service of your jacket. They do need to be serviced every 12 months, or as per the manufacturer's requirements. Sometimes they will say you can do it every three years or something, but again, you need to refer back to your manufacturer.
Now, what you're going to need for the service - you're going to have to have your jackets with you. (Pete holds up a jacket.) You will need to have a set of scales, like your kitchen scales, but don't worry too much if you haven't got kitchen scales at home, a handy tip is next time you're down at the grocery store. Just take it with you because there are the scales in the fruit section that are all calibrated. So that'd be a handy way for you to do your weighing of the components you need to weigh. You also need a clear space, like a work bench or something like that.
So, what we also do is we encourage the asking of questions. So please, any questions that you have, you'll see on the right hand side of your screen, there's a chat box. So if you go into there, put your questions in there. We have two moderators with us tonight. We have Vanessa and Alison who are hiding over in the background here, and they will answer any questions. They’ll also let us know any of the questions that you send through and we will try and answer them in live time or otherwise what we'll do is at the end of the session, we will go to a question time and we'll try to answer all the questions that you may have.
So to start with what we'll just do - I'll just do a quick explanation as to how an inflatable jacket works for those that are unsure. So Pete's going to demonstrate here, how you put it on. You just put it on, like you'd put on a backpack or a jacket. And what you want to do is you want to make sure that your straps are all neat and tidy. And it's nice and firm, you don't want it too tight, but you want it firm so it's not going to be sliding around and moving around on you. (Pete demonstrates putting on the jacket and doing up the buckles.) You want to make sure that your buckles will clip in nice, and you'll hear that click when they go in. Now, if we can just get you Pete just to unzip that on the side, he’s just undoing the Velcro. Now everyone should be able to see the yellow bag in there – in the background. That's the bladder. Now that's what's going to keep us floating when we go in the water. But what we need to do is we need to inflate that bladder. So you'll see here, Pete's pointing to the gas, there's a CO2 gas cartridge there. What we need to do is we need to release the gas from that. So just below that, it's attached to a firing mechanism. Inside there there's a pin. So what'll happen is when there's a toggle cord there. When you pull that down, a thing will come up, it will puncture the gas bottle, the gas will then travel through the mechanism into the yellow bladder and inflate the bladder. With this particular jacket that Pete's wearing – it’s an automatic jacket. So we do get different types. You do have manual jackets and you do have automatics. If you have an automatic, you'll have both options. So the way it works at the bottom, there's a cartridge there, the little black cartridge at the bottom that Pete's pointing to. Now inside there is a high tension spring and a dissolvable tablet. Once that's submerged in water, that tablet will dissolve and it'll allow the spring to go off and that will puncture the gas bottle and release the gas.
Now ordinarily we wouldn't have this- when you're out on the water - you wouldn't have this all open like that. We've just opened it up for the demonstration. The way it's designed is that when it's all packed up, if you do get hit with a wave or it's raining, theoretically, what will happen is the rain will run, wash down and wash off the outside of the jacket and won’t set it off, it won’t be set off until it's actually submerged in water.
Then on the other side of the jacket (Pete points to the other side on the front of the jacket and opens it), you can see there's an oral inflation tube - a red oral inflation tube and attached to that is a whistle. (Pete opens the pouch on the front of his jacket on this left and shows the whistle.) Now, if you've got an automatic jacket and you fall in the water and it doesn't go off, don't panic. Next option you have is to pull that toggle, pull your manual cord. If it still doesn't go off, don't panic. On the other side, you've got your red oral tube. So what you do is just remove the cap and you can blow into that orally and just inflate it that way. (Pete demonstrates blowing into the red tube.) Now that we have an understanding, let's set it off. (Pete returns to the pouch on the front of the jacket on his right and puts everything back in place.) Let's have a look and just see what it looks like when it goes off. (Pete closes the pouch on the jacket on his right.)
So, are you ready Pete?
Pete: Yeah, so for this demonstration, what we're going to do - there's an option obviously of pulling the cord, but because this is an automatic lifejacket, what we're going to do is set it off by the automatic cartridge with a glass of water. These usually go off within a couple of seconds, as you will see you.
Ray: Are you ready?
Pete: Yep. Go for it.
(Pete places the automatic cartridge in a cup of water held by Ray. Gas is expelled from the cartridge and the lifejacket inflates.)
Pete: What they do – they’re designed to inflate that way. You’ve got your buoyancy on the front there and if you need extra air in there, you can just start blow it up there through the oral inflation tube as well. (Pete holds up the red oral inflation tube,) All the buoyancy s is on the front so they're actually designed to invert you on your back. And most importantly, keep your airways clear as well. [00:06:11]
Obviously for the servicing, we can go into a little bit more detail about the inside of the jackets – the components of the jackets there. So just quickly as well, just to talk about the level of lifejackets. So this is 150N. The N stands for newtons. So a newton is a unit measure of buoyancy. So it takes about probably 20 to 30 newtons to lift an adult up out of the water. So with 150 newtons of buoyancy in this jacket - this jacket has obviously ample buoyancy to lift you up and out of the water. And obviously invert you on your back, and it's got a neck collar to keep your airways out of the water.
Okay. So I'll just take that one off and bring over another one here.
Ray: What we'll get into now, now that we have a better understanding of how it actually works, we're going to look at what needs to happen in terms of your servicing for your annual check. Okay. So I’ve just got a jacket here on the table. We’ll just go to the other camera and get a shot of it. There we go. (The other lifejacket is now in view – placed flat on the table.)
Pete: So first of all, we just want to inspect the outside of the casing. Just to make sure there's really no clear evidence of the jacket being compromised, obviously a fishing hook or something hanging out of it. So have a good look on the outside of the case, turn it over, have a good look there as well. You want to pay particular attention to these straps to make sure the straps aren't obviously frayed and coming apart. I’ll just turn it back over again. (Front side is showing upwards.) I just want to check the clip mechanism as well. So that's not broken, obviously. I want it to stay on, so make sure that's working in correct order.
Okay. So next step here is we're just going to open it up and I'll just start with this side of the jacket where the firing mechanism is. (Ray opens the pouch to expose the gas canister.) The cylinder here has CO2 in it. So these are one shot only, so obviously you need to replace them each time after they go off. First of all, we’ve just got this backing plate on there. (Ray shows the yellow bladder containing the canister.) So if your lifejacket has got that one, and obviously different brands have different features, it's good to have that in place, particularly if that cylinder has got a bit of corrosion on there. It might have a sharp edge on it, and the last thing you want is it rubbing up against the bladder and compromising the bladder. So make sure that’s in place. So what we'll do, firstly is unscrew the cylinder – it’s corroded - throw it away. A little bit of corrosion is ok but not ideal. So what can happen there - if there's a bit of corrosion on the side, instead of coming out of the – as Ray mentioned before – it sends up a pin and pierces it there but if you've got a bit corrosion on the side, there might be a pin prick leak in there (points to narrow end). So it's very important if it looks okay there and particularly if it’s got a bit of corrosion, and obviously it's part of the servicing requirement, you just want to weigh it on some kitchen scales.
So we've got some kitchen scales here. (Holding the cylinder) It’s got two weights on the side. So it's got a net weight – so the combined CO2 and the weight of the cartridge. And it's also got the weight of the CO2. So this has got 33 grams of CO2 in it and it’s got a net weight of 138. So if I weigh it on some kitchen scales (places a plastic dish on scales with sides on it then places the cartridge on top) so it doesn't roll off. If it's two grams either side of the net weight, you’re good to go. So this is weighing in at 138, pretty much spot on. So that's fantastic. But if it was weighing, for instance, you know, at 110, you'd know it'd be minus 33 grams of CO2 in it. So as I said, if it weighs, if it doesn't weigh two grams either side of the net weight, you’d want to get a new one – obviously, the gas has leaked out in there. Okay. So. I'll just take that away. (Ray moves the plastic dish and scales out of the way.)
(Pete picks up the canister and screws it back in then takes it out again then shows the mechanism into which the canister would go.) Okay. So once I've got that undone there, what I want to do is I just want to have a look at this mechanism here. It's got a little O ring in there. So you want to make sure there's no debris cork in there and just have a bit of inspection there. (Holding up the mechanism.) These have different features depending on the brand. Some have little green lights on them, some have clicks to let you know if the cylinder’s been screwed in. If I was to screw a spent cylinder in there, that little indicator light there would stay red. And if it's missing a green clip (Pete inserts a clip into and out of the side of the mechanism), and it hasn't got these indicator lights, like some other jackets do, it means that actually it's been activated before. So you’ve just got to make sure that obviously that clicks in place. (Pete is referring to the clip on the side.) – it’s a bit of a pre-ready check and make sure it's okay. So with this one, if you remove your green clip, if you have got it, you just want to check that mechanism there. (Pete removes and inserts the clip on the side then picks up the string hanging off the mechanism.) You just want to make sure that's obviously tethered fine. (Pete checks the string.) And obviously that the string’s not going to break on you or anything like that. As I mentioned, have a look inside and make sure that the O ring is in place and make sure it's okay there.
Then if it's fitted with automatic features like cartridges, you just want to check the expiry date on that. So sometimes the date is printed on the outside, but sometimes you have to unscrew it depending on that particular brand of lifejacket (Pete unscrews the bottom part of the mechanism), and you just have a look on the inside to make sure, and you can pull it out and the date might be stamped in there. You get about three years on these automatic cartridges. [00:11:06]
(Pete picks up the one-use only gas cylinder.) There's no expiring date on these. There is a batch date printed on these so you don't have to replace these unless, as I mentioned before, they've got no gas in them or they're heavily corroded.
(Ray wants to say something.) Ray: Okay. So with the auto cartridges, some of them, like the one that we did the demo with, they will look like this. (Ray shows an auto cartridge.) They’ll be black with a green cap. That is another way of telling. So it might have the expiry date but it might also have the green cap missing. If that green cap is missing, that's an indicator that the auto cartridge has gone off already.
Pete: So once I’ve inspected that (pointing to the cartridge and picking up the side clip) and what I want to do with that lever is I want to click that back up firmly as well. And I can screw that cylinder after weighing it to make sure it's ok. And then I can screw that auto cartridge back on it if it's fitted with a cartridge. (Pete screws the cylinder and cartridge back into the mechanism.) What you want to do is you want to just hand tighten that as well. So obviously, if it's half screwed out, you’ve just got to be mindful of that. These cartridges sometimes can unloosen themselves over time, particularly if you’re bumping down a dirt road or they’re in the back of the car or back of the boat. So it's good idea for a pre-wear check just to hand-tighten the cartridge and just make sure it hasn't been half screwed out or, in some cases, they can actually completely fall out. You can actually do that from the outside of the jacket as well. (Pete hand tightens the cylinder on the mechanism.) Ok, so once that’s tight, you can put that back in. Just another thing, just make sure that the toggle doesn't get caught around that way. (Pete closes the pouch containing the cylinder then puts the toggle back around the outside of the pouch.) So if it gets caught around there, obviously if I pull the toggle now, it’s not going to activate, so you just got to make sure that's hanging out. (Pete brings the toggle back around so it is hanging out freely.) And when we pack the jacket back together, just to make, obviously make sure that that toggle is hanging out the side as well so it's not tucked up in there.
Okay. So we'll find out a little bit more now. (Pete undoes the jacket so the bladder on the front left side is fully exposed.) We just want to have a bit more of a general inspection of the bladder. So these have a hot welded seam around these jackets and sometimes they're actually sown within the casing, sometimes they're like this, this one has Velcro, some of them have zips in that. So there’s obviously a bit of diversity depending on the brand you buy.
So just want to have good inspection of that bladder and make sure there's no deterioration there. We're going to do an oral inflation test as part of the service. We’ll go into a little bit more detail but that will obviously give us a good idea if that bladder has been compromised.
Okay. (Pete points at reflective strips on the jacket.) So this one's got a couple of strips of reflective tape on it. So this was an Australian standard. So you just want to make sure that reflective tape is sealed properly. If it is peeling back, I probably wouldn't glue it back together as well, because particularly glues can, once again, compromise that jacket. So very important that the bladder is in good condition. On this side (Pete points to the other side), we've got your oral inflation tube and you've got a whistle. Sometimes the whistle might be attached somewhere else down near the belt or something. Once again, depending on that brand of jacket. So make sure the whistle is tethered there – I’m just going to give that a blow and make sure there’s no debris caught in it and it’s ok. (Pete blows the whistle.). Have a good look around the seam, around the oral inflation tube because sometimes you can get a bit of deterioration there as well to make sure that's okay. So, part of this test, of this service, we want to orally inflate it and leave it, usually overnight. So once again, you do your lifejacket servicing in accordance with the manufacturer. Some say 24 hours, some say longer. So do it in accordance with that manufacturer and then obviously orally inflate it. And if you come back in the morning, or the following day, for instance, and it's completely deflated, obviously you've got a hole in the bladder and, you know, you want to get a new lifejacket there as well. Okay, so, what we've got here (pointing to the inside of the jacket) - this jacket here, it's got the service history on this particular part of the jacket, and it might differ depending on that brand of jacket. So this one here has got numerous cells there so you can fill in the service dates. Service that lifejacket every 12 months and you just want to write in there with a Sharpie or something like that, that you serviced it and put the date on there as well. So these jackets usually have 7 or 10 cells there to fill out. But if you take good care of this jacket, for instance, if you're not packing it away wet, you can actually obviously extend that service history by a few cells or whatever it has. [00:15:23]
Okay. So that's the main key components of servicing that lifejacket. So just to reiterate on that. So we just want to unscrew that cylinder, weigh that cylinder, make sure it’s 2 grams either side of that net weight, we want to check out the O ring in there. Make sure there's no debris caught in there. We want to have a look at the toggle, make sure that's in good condition. Check the lever as well, make sure that's okay. If it’s fitted with an automatic cartridge, we want to just make sure that the automatic cartridge hasn't expired, by the date either printed on the side or on the inside of the cartridge. Once again, depending on which brand it is. And, as Ray mentioned before, there’s a bit of a green indicator clip there as well.
Now, if you need another clip to put back, you can actually, when you buy these cylinders if you need one, you can also get clips to put back on there as well. And that’s just, as I said, a bit of a pre check to make sure that jacket is good to go. And then on this side (pointing to the left side, make sure your oral inflator has a whistle tethered to it. Check your reflective tape. Have a good inspection around the bladder, make sure it hasn’t been compromised, and obviously do your oral inflation tests to make sure that it's got no slow leaks in the jacket so it's in good condition there. Okay, so, and then just sign it off there as well. So if the jacket comes with a self-inspection checklist, just fill through that as well just to make sure. We showed you one of those before. (Pete holds up a self-service checklist form.)
Okay, so what I’ll do, I'll hand it back to Ray. And he's going to demonstrate how to repack a jacket. So these differ, depending on the style of the jacket, this one's got Velcro and the case comes apart from the jacket. As I mentioned before, some jackets, actually the bladder is sown within that casing.
Ray: So what we're going to do is, we're going to imagine that it's the next morning. So we've got our jacket, it’s been blown up all night. This one's actually gone down a bit, probably not a good, a good jacket. If your jacket has deflated at all, then you will want to actually replace it. You can't try and fix the bladder. You just want to replace it if the bladder has gone down. But what we’re going to before we repack it, what we need to do is we need to get any remaining gas out of the jacket, out of the bladder. And what we’re going to do is you just want to scrunch it up using the oral inflation tube. What you want to do is just use the cap. Don’t use your finger. Don’t use a pencil or anything like that. Just use the top of the cap. Reverse it upside down and push that in. And just play the bagpipes with it. So can you just squeeze the jacket you force that bladder, you scrunch it all up and that will get all the air out. So then once we’ve got all the air out of it, what we are going to do is, I’m just going to grab the one that we flipped in on already.
Here we go.
(Ray gets another jacket and lays it on the table with the writing side facing up.) So, what we’re going to do, we’ve got all the air out, we’ve got it nice and flat. So we are going to lay it out on a table, on a nice flat surface. We make sure that there’s no air left in it. You get it all nice and flat. What we are going to do then is we're going to get our casing. We're going to get the covering. Now, some jackets you'll find that the bladder is actually sewn into the cover…You're not going to have any problems repacking that, that's easy. Some of them have Velcro, some of them have zippers. So what we're going to do is we're going to start. (Ray picks up the red casing.) You put your covering on, so it looks like how it would be when you're wearing it. And if we lay that on top, lay that down on top, so it's how we know it's going to fit in the jacket. First thing we're going to do is we're going to get our straps. We need to ensure that we have our neck loop fed through the bladder. So we feed the bladder through the neck loop. You get our neck loop up into the centre so it's in the centre at the top. Then what we do is we get any twists or kinks out of the straps – get them out of the way now. So we make sure that we get all our loose ends. And then what we're going to do is we're going to get our buckles. Using our cover, putting our cover back on top, open it up, feed our buckles through. Now, by doing this, we ensure that we've got our buckles the right way around and it's going to hold us in place while we do the rest of the repack. It’ll just take me a second here.
So, it’s really, really important that we get our repack done properly. If you get any twists or kinks in the bladder, that's going to act like a balloon knot and the gas will travel through that point and won’t be able to get past it. So it's really critically important that we repack our jackets properly. Now, a lot of the modern jackets like this jacket will have fold lines printed on there telling you where to put your folds back.
If your jacket doesn’t have those lines, just use your servicing panel as a guide line. What you want to do is you want to do like a rectangle, make it nice and neat like a rectangle, fold the sides under. And then tuck it in at the bottom and then do it up as you go along. (Ray is feeding the yellow bladder into the red casing.) And don’t worry about how much of it is hanging out at the top just yet, because we'll come to that.
I want you to do one side first and then the other side. Now, if this is all a bit confusing, you can actually watch this live stream which will be up for a day or two. So you will be able to come back tomorrow and have another look if you want to have a practice. Then what we'll do is I've got one side in now, I'm going to do the same thing on the other side. Now, remembering on this side - this is where our toggle is. So we want to make sure that our toggle is hanging out at the bottom. We keep that down in the bottom so we've got easy access to it. And then we do the same thing. As a right angle, put it in again, not worried about how much is hanging out at the top just yet. Hopefully this is okay. All right then, what we're going to do before I do the top, I'm going to come down to the bottom and I'm going to hold onto the side and I'm going to give it a good pull. I'm just going to tuck it down, nice and neat. So the same on this one. It's a good idea to leave your gas bottle out until you've done the re-pack because when you actually tighten it up like this, you run the chance of setting it off again. [00:21:51]
So now that I've got that, what we're going to do is we're going to work on the top. So in this design, what I'm going to do is I'm just going to fold that top end under on itself. So now we're sort of squared off, we’ve got a square top, our neck loop is still in the centre. And I'm going to just hospital corner - the corner of the triangle, just fold that under itself. And then I can Velcro around. Then the same thing on the other side. Up then under. And then just Velcro that around. Now don’t worry if it's not as neat and tidy as it was when you first got it, you're never going to get it as neat and tidy as what it was when you first got it from the manufacturer. But as long as you've got it in there without any twists or kids, you can be assured that it's going to work again for you. Then what you do is you go around and just make sure all your Velcro is done up nice and tight. (Ray picks up another lifejacket which has zippers rather than Velcro.) Now similar if you do have a zipper design, what you will do, you are going to re-pack it in a similar way, but instead of doing one side up, other side up, you are going to be in a situation where you need to actually go all the way around. So you're still going to do the same process, but as you go around, you'll just have to do your top and your corners as you go and then bring the zipper up as you go on. So it is a little bit trickier than the Velcro design but it is doable.
Pete: Just a reminder. Please use the chat function - happy to answer any of your questions during this presentation.
Have we got a question there?
Vanessa/Alison: Yes, we have a question from John and he is saying that there's no service history on the front of his lifejacket. So he’s asking what does that mean. And if he can still get it serviced?
Pete: So sometimes service history is displayed on the front of the lifejacket like this one here. It might be displayed on a panel on the back, on the outside case in there. So, most lifejackets are self-service. So for you to undertake the servicing, you can undertake it yourself. Some particular jackets specify that it has to be returned to the certified repair facility or the manufacturer, say every three years, and you can do the intermittent service, but there are some particular brands of lifejacket that you can’t actually do the self-service. And so, as I said, revert to your manufacturer's instructions, and that'll tell you if it's a self-service lifejacket, if you can do it through its life with the lifejacket, or you have to take it back every three years, for instance, to a certified repair facility. So it depends on that particular brand of lifejacket.
Alison: Thank you Peter. That’s all the questions for the moment so you can continue on.
Peter: So this particular brand of light jacket, it's actually got some clear windows there. So that's a really handy feature, and you can see when Ray repacked this as well he lined those up so you’ve got those indicators there as a bit of a pre-wear check which is great. And obviously on this side here (pointing to the left side) he's got the service history on the window there as well. I just want to mention this as well. This, this red strap here, so this is just a grab strap. So what's this designed to do is obviously leave it hanging out, and if you're getting into trouble in the water, someone can actually grab that strap and pull your by it as well. So just make sure that's out. And obviously when you repack it, just to make sure that that toggle’s definitely hanging back out as well, and it hasn't been wrapped around any part of the component, as I mentioned before. So very important there. And obviously if you give one of these lifejackets to someone who’s never worn one of these before, please explain how to activate the lifejacket, particularly if it's a manual style lifejacket and just to let them know, just to pull sharply down on that toggle.
Ray: Another common question we get too Pete is, are they acceptable for children? So, legality wise, children can wear them, but we don't recommend it. There's a few reasons for that: children are curious, you know, they’ll be out there, they'll be on the water and they'll see that cord and they won't know what it does, they’ll pull it and I'll set it off. And then, the other thing is if they do actually end up in trouble and children fall in the water, they won't think rationally, they'll panic. And they won't realize that all they need to do is pull that cord. , and another thing is, once they're inflated, that can be quite big and bulky around a child's head which can cause them to sort of freak out a little bit. So we don't recommend them for children under 12.
Pete: And yeah, so a foam jackets would be a better option there. Obviously, with lifejackets, it’s very important they fit correctly. You want them to do the job they are intended to do. This particular lifejacket for instance says 45 kg and upward as well. So yeah. If you put it on somebody who weighs 30 kilograms, for instance, it's likely just to pop up over their head once it's activated as well.
So very important that the lifejacket fits you correctly. Ah, so there you go, they're fantastic. Very comfortable lifejackets to wear these ones but obviously things can go wrong with them, hence the service requirements on them. So obviously just continue with the 12 month inspections there and your pre-wear checks as well to make sure that that cylinder is screwed in properly there. And you probably saw during that demonstration that it wasn't actually – it spread out a bit of gas there as well. So yeah that was an oversight on my part because we were pulling it apart before. So yeah, then obviously] as mentioned before, make sure that toggles hanging out. And just really make sure it's done up properly. So when - if it does go off, they do obviously hug nicely on you and it will keep on you as well.
So just with lifejackets as well, if you're not wearing them, if they're stored on a boat in particularly, if they’re stored and they're hidden away in like a little compartment or hatch, you can get little lifejacket stickers, a little, little red lifejacket wording on a white background just to mark the location of that hatch, where they're stored. So in an emergency situation, people can go straight for that location - they're not fumbling around in different hatches. If they're clearly visible, sitting under the …or bow or something, but yeah. That's fine. It's just that a way. So just make sure you get one of those lifejacket stickers which you can get from marine dealerships and different boating stores there. And if you run into a boating education office down the boat ramp, we obviously carry those stickers - more than happy to give you one too. So just a heads up on that. And that's actually a legal requirement if they are hidden away to mark that location.
Ray: Something else that we tend to get at the beginning of each season, we’ll get a lot of people that are, that'll let us know that their, their automatic lifejackets have gone off during the winter. So they've actually come out, got their boat out, and their jackets are inflated. Now a common cause of that is, as we were saying with these canisters, they're actually, they've got to be, and the tablet needs to be wet. So what can happen is people leave them up in the bow of the boat or they'll put them in a box or in storage. And during the winter, they might have a couple of really hot days and what'll happen is it will get some condensation in there, and that moisture in there can be enough to set off the automatic cartridge. So if you are putting your lifejackets away for an extended period of time, we recommend you keep them in a dry well ventilated area - somewhere where they're not going to get wet and somewhere where they're not going to start sweating on you.
Pete: Yeah, very important that as I mentioned before, not to pack them away wet. If you do get salt water on them, that can deteriorate the jacket. If you pack it away, obviously as well. So I'd give it a good rinse off with fresh water. Just be mindful if you have got a lifejacket with an automatic cartridge, please unscrew that first. It's going to pop it off with you and then I'll just give it a good dry out before you pack it away. So yeah, just, just a heads up on that one. Just for the obviously the maintenance of that lifejacket, just to increase the life of that lifejacket. Then do we have any other questions? [00:29:17]
Vanessa/Alison: Ah, yes we do. We have a question which asks “Which do you recommend the manual inflation or auto inflation?”
Pete: I'm a huge fan of auto inflation lifejackets because you've just got that added security. If you do get knocked unconscious, for instance, it's going to automatically go off within a couple of seconds, invert you on your back and keep your airways clear, but there's different lifejackets for different types of boating activities out there. So if you’re on a kayak with an automatic inflation lifejacket, it’s pretty unlikely you're going to get knocked out a bit but occasionally you will go in the water and that's going to go off. And obviously you're going to have to replace that mechanism there, the cylinder and the automatic cartridge when you go in the water. So obviously a lot of people say on a Hobie Cat or a kayak tend to go the manual style lifejackets there, but if you're doing a lot of boating alone, by all means, yeah, I'd recommend getting an automatic feature lifejacket for sure and, and there's lots of different available foam sole lifejackets out there as well. Just as a heads up, if you're on a PWC, it’s not advised to wear one of these lifejackets - you can get spray up and, obviously tow sports as well. You don't want to hit the water at speed where you've got something around your neck there. So obviously a Level 50, 100 lifejacket would be a better option there.
A lot of people ask us - they don't want to get the automatic featured lifejackets because they're afraid it's going to go off on them – the automatic cartridge. (Pete opens the pouch of the lifejacket and exposes the cartridge mechanism.) It really has to be hanging out and you have torrential rain or caught in spray going over a bar crossing or something like that and then it might go off then but it really has to be inundated with water. But if you tuck that away and don’t have that automatic cartridge hanging out, that’s fine – it’s not going to go off in an environment like that where’s torrential rain or you’re getting a lot of spray from a bar crossing. So lots of different styles of lifejacket out there depending on your boating activity.
Ray asks Vanessa/Alison about the next question: Did the customer mention what sort of boating activity they’re doing?
Vanessa/Alison: No, unfortunately they didn’t. But we have a question from another participant who is saying they're a regular kayaker on the Georges River and which kind of jacket would we recommend? Would you recommend something different?
Ray: I would recommend, especially on the Georges River, on a waterway like that, that's got a lot of traffic on it – being in a kayak, I would recommend going for a foam style vest. There are designs now that are made specifically for kayak wearers because they sit higher on the chest so you’ve got more room movement and the sides are open. I would tend to stay away from inflatable jackets when kayaking for a couple of reasons like Pete just explained, if you've got an automatic in a kayak, there's a greater chance of getting wet. So you've got the greater risk of setting it off. But the other issue is unfortunately, a lot of incidents we have with kayaks are that they are struck by powered vessels. Because you're so low to the water, powered vessels are sitting up higher; they might have a salty windscreen, they're looking into the sun, you become invisible. If you are struck by a powered vessel, the chances of getting knocked out are greater. If you're knocked out , you're not going to be able to set that jacket off. So it's probably advisable in a kayak and canoe, go with a vest style jacket, probably going to be more appropriate for you unless you're going onto a waterway such as, for example, Bendeela campground or something like that, where there is no powered vessels, then you'd be well suited with manual inflation, but just a busy waterway like the Georges river, where you get a lot of traffic and a lot of traffic going fast, I would probably stick with a foam jacket.
Pete: You may have seen an inflatable waist belt version lifejacket. So they’re exactly like this but they're just packed in a different casing so it goes around your waist there as well. A lot of people like these as well but you just get a bit more freedom, but the issues with them I find is you haven't already got them around your neck so if you've got a bit of a crook shoulder or get a bit panicky in cold water, you’ve got to put them on. With these ones already around your neck - obviously those waist belt lifejackets are only a manual version of the lifejacket so obviously if you get knocked unconscious they’re not as ideal as these automatic inflatable jackets.
Vanessa/Alison: Yeah, we have a couple more questions. We have a participant tonight that, unfortunately missed the first 10 minutes, which was when you showed how to check one of the cylinders, and they're just asking if we recommend putting Vaseline or a similar lubricant on the thread before screwing the back in. So might be a great idea just to run through that.
Pete: Yeah. So people previously do that before to put the Vaseline on there to hopefully stop that corrosion. But the issue there is that it obviously can deteriorate that cylinder. You can get a lot of debris caught up in there as well. It actually can get into the screw bit there as well. (Pete holds up the gas cylinder and points to the narrow end of the cylinder.) Just importantly as well with these, just to, to make sure there's no, obviously corrosion around the screw functioning unit. If you actually set these off and you need a new one, if you can retain that old one and just take it into the shop because they do differ. So some, obviously have 33 grams of CO2 in there, some 24 grams, some 27 grams, etc. Some have actually got a thicker thread length on there, or a longer third. So you just obviously want to match that up and make sure it's the right one as well. Obviously if you put something in with a two longer thread link on there, it might go off as you screw it in. And too short, obviously, you know, the gas might leak out as well, but just for that first 10 minutes that that person missed as well so we just kind of demonstrated that cylinder there to take it out, obviously to weigh it on your kitchen scales, make sure it's two grams either side of the net way on the side and it's not heavily corroded there as well.
Ray: One thing, can I just add there as well, about that question about using the Vaseline, the petroleum in the jelly can actually affect the bladder and it can damage, can start to wear the bladder in the jacket, and also like Pete said, the petroleum can get caught in the actual thread of the bottle and it can go hard. It can sit and it can go rock hard, like cement, and then you'll have trouble. You won't be able to get your bottle out. So just avoid using anything. People I've heard other people using different oils and things to try and protect it. Best thing is just to keep them dry. If you have been out in a day and it's all salty, just give it a rinse down with fresh water when you get back. And just make sure it's drying clean. That's the best suggestion. Don't try and extend the life of it by covering it in jellies. [00:36:00]
Pete: Did we have any more questions there at all?
Vanessa/Alison: We certainly do. I have a question regarding – are lifejackets required in unregistered boats. For example, if they have an engine with less than five horsepower?
Pete: Ah, yes, they are. So the unregistered vessel, there's two still classes as a vessel. So if you're by yourself in a vessel, that's under 4.8 meters, you're required to wear a lifejacket. Also for vessels under 4.8 meters, if you're offshore, nighttime or Alpine waters, you're also required to wear a lifejacket, or under the age of 12 as well. So a surf board or a sup for instance, a stand-up paddle board for instance isn’t classed as a vessel, but a kayak or canoe, or a vessel that's got a four kilowatt engine, which is roughly equivalent to about 5.2 horsepower, anything you go over that you have to register, but it's still classed as a vessel, therefore you're still required to wear a lifejacket. If you’re by yourself, offshore, at nighttime, Alpine waters, carry lifejackets if more than two adults on board and it's not nighttime on enclosed waters.
Ray: If the vessel is under 8.1 meters children under the age of 12 will need to wear them at all times unless the vessel actually has an anchor down or tied to a morning and also, back to the vessels that are under 4.8 meters, if you're an adult with a child on board and you're the only adult you will need to be wearing your lifejacket as well as the children.
Pete: So there's various lifejacket wear requirements out there. We're happy to answer a few more of them if you send them through but obviously if you have look at the maritime website and that a good table there citing all the different wearing requirements for different sized vessels, environments, etc.
Ray: And also just letting you know, for the person that missed the beginning, you can actually go back, you'll have a day or so that you can actually read, watch this live stream so you can go back and watch it again from the beginning after the session.
Vanessa/Alison: So a couple more questions guys, we have a question here. What does the BSO need to see as evidence of a self-service when on the water?
Pete: So I'm not sure if our viewers can hear Alison properly there. So the question was “what does the Boating Safety Officer need to see when undertaking a compliance check when on the water?” So what they'll want to have a look at is they’ll want to have a look at that service history on the inside of that lifejacket to make sure that you've actually serviced lifejacket and that that lifejacket is in good working condition. Yeah, also if your checklist specifies to carry this on board as well, which not all do, just make sure you obviously serviced it by the manufacturing specs. And if it's specified to carry this on board, just to carry that on board there as well even in photo format or clear bag or something like that, zip lock bags as Ray mentioned before.
Vanessa/Alison: Excellent. And our final question for the moment - Can an auto- inflatable lifejacket be reused after replacing the gas cylinder?
Pete: Yeah, certainly. Yeah, yeah, by all means. So as soon as that bladder is compromised or it’s got a hole in bladder, for instance, you're going to need a new one. (Pete holds up the gas cylinder.) But yeah, these are condition of use. And as I mentioned before, there's no expiry date on these but you just want to go through that check of weighing them on some kitchen scales and make sure it's two grams either side of that net weight stamp on the side. And obviously if it's heavily corroded, you want to get rid of it as well. If you can’t read those weights on the side because of corrosion, obviously get rid of it. But yeah, by all means you don't have to replace these out each year unless they've got those elements which I just discussed.
Ray: And the auto cartridge and the cylinder are one use only. So if the jacket has been inflated because the auto cartridge has gone off, then you will need to replace the auto cartridge and the cylinder but you can still keep using the jacket. You've just got to make sure you've done the service and everything's checked. So you've weighed your cylinder, your cartridge hasn't expired. It hasn't gone off, your bladder has no leaks, you've checked all your straps, your buckles, everything. Provided you've done your service, then you can keep using the jacket.
Vanessa/Alison: Well, that's all we have for questions.
Pete: Fantastic. So thanks for joining us this evening on this live presentation about servicing inflatable lifejackets. If you require further information, our moderators (Vanessa and Alison, I believe put a maritime education email address up. So by all means, please send some further questions to that email and we'll be happy to assist with where we can.
Ray: If you see us this in the field, come and say hello.
Pete: Thank you.