Unsafe lifejackets: Kapok filling or cotton straps

Old lifejackets with kapok filling or cotton straps are unsafe, likely to fail when used, and should be destroyed.

That’s the message from Maritime NZ.

General manager Maritime compliance Kenny Crawford says these old lifejackets should be replaced as soon as possible with modern foam-filled or inflatable lifejackets and destroyed so they cannot be reused or on-sold.

“Check, replace, destroy.

” These lifejackets are decades old and have not been made since the 1980s.

However, an unknown number are still being used.

“Kapok is a cotton-like fluff that is no longer used in lifejackets because it naturally loses buoyancy over time and if it gets wet will absorb water and pull you down,” says Kenny.

“Cotton straps rot over time, even if the lifejacket is not used, and will tear or break off.

The lifejacket will come off in the water,” says Kenny.

“If one of these lifejackets has been used in the past and floated, then it should still be replaced as soon as possible and destroyed.

It will have deteriorated and might not float now.

“Even if these lifejackets are in their original packaging, have never been used and look in perfect condition replace and destroy them.

They are too old and are unsafe.

” Kenny says these old lifejackets complied with international rules when they were manufactured, and many of them have the old standards ‘S’ logo on them.

However, they no longer comply with the modern New Zealand standard.

Boaties would originally have bought the lifejackets new in the 1980s and even earlier.

“They will have been used in summers and stored over winters again and again,” says Kenny.

“They may have been passed down in families and to friends or sold second-hand.

“They are turning up on TradeMe and at the ‘Old4New’ lifejacket upgrades that are funded by Maritime NZ and run by Coastguard in summer.

“TradeMe, Coastguard and many others are helping us get rid of these old lifejackets.

” On Maritime NZ’s advice, TradeMe has removed several old lifejackets from auctions and will continue to do so as more are posted for sale.

“Now is a great time to ‘check, replace, destroy’ old lifejackets before the weather improves and boaties start getting back out on the water,” says Kenny.

“If you have this message, pass it on.

Tell your family and tell a friend.


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