Fix your PFD

What Should You Do If A PFD Has A Tear In The Outer Fabric?

If you are a kayaker, sailor or paddler, a personal floatation device is something you should never leave your home without. This item will keep you afloat and alive in case of an accident or a mishap, whether you are conscious or unconscious.

These devices are rarely moved from their storage areas; hence they could wear out, and no one will notice until when you need to use them. However, they can be fixed in case of a tear. Below are the measures you should take if your Protection Floating Device has a tear.

Why do you need a PFD

It is required by law that you have a life jacket or a PFD when sailing or going into deep waters. Even without a law requirement, a PFD is something you should never go paddling or kayaking without for the following reasons.

  1. A PFD helps prevent 90% of boating accidents.
  2. The PFD help reduce the initial impact when you fall in the water. That shock causes hypothermia.
  3. Some PFDs will slow down heat loss through the Heat Escape Lessening Position(HELP)
  4. The PDF helps increase your survival chance in case of accidents or capsizing.

Types of Personal Floatation Devices

There are five different types of PFD. They include:

Type I: Offshore Life Jackets:

These PFDs are designed for remote waters where rescue may take too much time. They are the most buoyant jackets, and they are excellent floating devices. They even turn unconscious people face-up in water.

Type II: Near-Shore Vests:

These PFDs are best for calm waters where there is a high likelihood for rescue. The PFDs are very buoyant. However, they cannot turn an unconscious person face-up in water.

Type III: Floatation Aids:

These vests are also perfect for calm waters where you can get rescued fast enough when need be. They are not recommended for rough waters since they cannot turn an unconscious person face up.

Type IV: Throwable Devices:

This PFD is not meant to be worn. You are supposed to hold on to it. It is therefore not recommended for rough waters or someone who is not able to hold on.

Type V: Special-Use Devices:

These devices are usually designed and made for sports like kayaking, wakeboarding, or windsurfing. These PFDs must be used as it is used in the label

How do you discover Tears on a PFD?

Some tears are quite conspicuous, and you can discover them easily, while others are quite hidden. Here are a few tips on how you can find tears on your PFD.

  • Large Tears: Sometimes the Personal Flotation Device will have very conspicuous tears that you can see even from a distance. Examine the tear and see if there is a possibility of repair or the PFD needs to be changed.
  • Oil Spills: Oil spills will result in your PFD losing its buoyancy. On noticing the oil spillages, you need to start planning how and when you will change the equipment. Otherwise, it might disappoint you when you need it the most.
  • Broken Hardware: If the PFD hardware is broken, it means that the PFD is already ruined; make plans on getting a new PFD as soon as you can.
  • Missing Webbing: If the PFD webbing is torn or ribbed, you should make a point of changing it or replacing it.
  • Rotten Material: Rotten material also indicates a possibility of wear and tear on your device in the near future.

How to fix a Tear in the outer fabric of A PFD

A PDF is prone to wear and tear if it’s not stored correctly and taken care of. You can fix the tear in some cases, and you don’t have to change your device, while in other cases, you need to replace the PFD with a new product. Here are some ways you can fix a tear in the outer fabric of your personal floatation device.

  • Using a Duct Tape: Using duct tape is one way in which you can repair a PFD. This method does not require you to be an expert, but you need to be careful not to cause tears on other parts of the PFD.
  • Iron on a Patch:  A patchwork is another way to repair a torn PFD. This is one of the fastest easy to repair a torn PFD. This method helps reduce the cost and gets your PFD fixed in the shortest time possible

 Before patching the PFD consider the below factors:

  • Patching should be considered if the tear on the PFD is not too deep.
  • Ensure you have a professional to ensure that the patching job correctly in a way that does not hide the tear or affect the PFDs performance.

However, patchwork comes with its downside!

Patching may result in more tears, especially if patching is not done in the right direction.

Replacing the PFD:  The other way to repair a PFD is by replacing it with something new. Among all the different ways to repair a PFD, this is the most effective way. Replacing the PFD will eliminate the worry that a PFD will get weakened and cause accidents or malfunction. If you are in a position to replace the PFD, choose this method.

How to prevent the occurrence of Tear in a PFD

After you have had your PFD replaced or repaired, you need to ensure that there is no possibility of such a situation again in the future. Here are some of the precautions you need to take to ensure its longevity.

  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight: One major cause of damage in PFDs is sunlight. Exposing the PFD to ultraviolet rays diminishes the PFD quality and weakens it making it prone to wear and tear.
  • Hanging the PFD: Most people store their PFD on a shelf or in an enclosed place. However, this should not be the case. The best way to keep your PFD is when hanging. This device is safer if it stays higher, and in this way, you can increase its life worth.
  • Keeping the PFD in a Ventilated Area: The other way you can avoid the tearing of your personal floatation device is to store it in a ventilated place. A well-ventilated room will ensure that the personal floatation device is free from rotting the hardware parts and other parts.

A video from SRS on How to choose the right life jacket

How to maintain PFDs in good condition

There are ways you can service your PFD to keep it in good condition. These ways include:

Testing of the PFD buoyancy regularly. The best way to test the protection flotation devices is by using them in shallow waters or a swimming pool. Also, inspect the device for rips, tears, discoloration, weakened materials, insecure straps, and zippers.

When using the inflatable PFDs, check the inflator and CO2 to ensure it is intact and there are no leaks. To confirm that there are no leaks in the CO2, you remove the CO2 cylinder and orally inflate the PFD. The PFD should still be firm after a few hours. After inflating the PFD replace the CO2 cylinder with a new cylinder.


It is now clear why it is mandatory to have a PFD when going in the waters; even the law dictates that you need to have a life jacket or a PFD when engaging in activities like boating or kayaking for your protection. You need to check on these devices regularly to ensure they are ready for use at any time and to mend any tears they may have acquired over time.

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