How to Manage Torn or Damaged PFD

Having the correct PFD on you whenever you’re out on the water, especially kayaking or fishing is just as important as having the rest of your equipment; your boat, paddles, and fishing gear, if not more.

Your life-vest may very well be the last line of defense standing between you and meeting your end. That is why it’s required by law in so many areas to have perfectly functioning PFD on you whenever you’re out on the water.

The thing is, PFD can be expensive, so finding a tear or any type of damage on it can be rather frustrating. Plus, at the time, it might be budget-wise to try and fix it first. So, let’s see what our options are when it comes to damaged PFD.

Replace the PFD

We know we’ve just said that PFD is expensive; but, it’s worth every penny as long as you’re investing in a high-quality life-vest that’s going to serve you for years on end. 

Hence, if you feel like you’ve gotten the bang for your buck out of your old PFD, there is no need to try and exhaust it more because it’s bound to give up on you, and it might do that in the worst of situations.

Furthermore, as we’ve said, it’s required by law for you to have functional PFD, and any fixes that you conjure at home might not be up to par with what the law requires from you.

Repair the PFD

Let’s say you’re a professional, or you know a professional that can fix your PFD if you haven’t had it for long, and you feel like you can still use it. There are a few ways of repairing it; just make sure that a professional is doing the work, not an amateur.

Patch It Up

Using patches like we did in the 2000s, the ones that are ironed onto the fabric. Those can hide the tear or whatever damage that has befallen your PFD while managing to make it functional again. Just make sure that while ironing the patch, that you’re not causing damage to other parts of the vest.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is probably the answer to many problems, and damaged PFD is one of them. As a result, you can use it to go over the tear in your PFD to return it to its former state of buoyancy and be able to take it out on the water again.

It goes without saying that whenever you try any repairs on your PFD, you’ve to take it out on the water and try it multiple times to ensure that it won’t give up on you. Make sure you’re in shallow enough waters that you’ll be able to drag yourself back to the safety of the shore if anything should happen.

And, if you’ve tried to fix it and failed, we’d advise you to go back to the first solution; that is to replace the whole thing for your own safety.

How to Keep Your PFD Safe

There are so many ways through which your PFD can get damaged, and most of them circle back to you. The thing is, you’ve to be quite diligent when it comes to how you deal with your PFD and how you store it to extend its lifespan as much as possible.

Let It Dry Completely

First of all, you must dry your PFD entirely before putting it into storage. You can wipe it with a towel or let it be in a well-ventilated area for a day. That way, you’re sure that it’s dry before you put it into storage.

If you’re in a hurry, you could place it outside or use a blow dryer on the cool setting to get all of the nooks and crannies of your vest dry. 

Hang in Storage

Now that your vest is completely dry, you need to store it. Don’t cram it up and shove it in a shelf to rot. If you’ve no place to hang it inside of your house, you can hang it in the garage.

Ensure that it’s standing straight with no parts of it suffering extreme pressure. That is bound to create areas of weakness in your PFD. Those areas of weakness will lose all buoyancy and cut the jacket’s lifespan by half.

Keep Away From Oils

Oils have a way of seeping into different fabrics, and when they get anywhere near the fabric of life-vests, they suck the buoyancy out of it. Subsequently, you’ll be having a standard jacket that won’t push you up when you’re under the water. So, keep your life jacket clean at all times, and keep any oils away from it.

Keep Away From Direct Sunlight

Sunlight is damaging to all types of clothing, and PFD isn’t at all different. We’ve said that you can let your vest dry outside, but for no more than a day. Still, make sure that when you put it outside, it’s not getting direct rays of sunlight focused on it. That can easily ruin the fabric and cause small and large tears in your vest.

Keep It Safe

Last but certainly not least, keep your PFD in a safe place. Don’t let kids or pets play with it, and don’t exchange your PFD with someone. It won’t fit them, and they’ll end up fiddling with it too much to the point of damaging it.

If you’re trying to take your child, or your pet, with you on a water trip, you’ll have to purchase the proper PFD for them.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, before you get anywhere near your boat, thoroughly check your PFD, make sure that it’s completely functional, and that you’ve a spare on your boat.

If something happens and your PFD isn’t functional, it’s the best option to replace it completely. Nevertheless, there is still a chance of fixing it if you’re a professional.

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