Before you head to the lake or hop into the boat remember to always have life jackets on hand. Did you know that life jackets have an expiration date? If you have life jackets around your home that haven’t been used in a while, it’s best to check if it’s still safe! It’s important to know if your life jackets and personal flotation devices are still effective because if there is a functional issue with them they won’t be effective in an emergency situation.

At AquaMobile, we want to educate everyone on the importance of water safety. In this article,  we’ll give you the information you need about life jacket expiration and how to tell when it’s time for an upgrade.

Do Life Jackets Expire?

Foam Life Jacket
Inflatable Life Jacket

There are various types of life jackets, the most common being foam life jackets and inflatable life jackets. Technically, the life jacket itself does not expire. It’s the material within the vest that loses it ability to retain buoyancy when in water over time.

The material in a foam life jacket is susceptible to damage and lower buoyancy due to regular wear and tear. This can heavily affect how it performs and protects the user when they’re in the water. Make sure to store your PFDs in dry cool areas and only use them for their intended purpose.

Inflatable life jackets use a carbon dioxide (CO2) tank to inflate themselves. It’s important to check the recommended tank replacement date before purchasing an inflatable life jacket. These tanks usually have a 1-3 year life span. It’s also  important to examine the tank for any damage, dirt, or corrosion every few months.

How to Test Your Life Jackets

If you have a life jacket around your home, whether a foam or inflatable one, that hasn’t been worn in a long time it’s best to test it before you take it out on a boating trip or swim.

You can test foam life jackets by simply putting them on and floating in calm or confined water conditions. The vest should fit properly, when you float in the water. It should not rise up over your shoulders when your are in the water. If you cannot float safely with the life jacket, it can mean that the foam inside has lost its buoyancy and the jacket should be replaced.

In the case of an inflatable life jacket, the process is the same. It should fit snug (but not overly constricted). Instead of testing the foam buoyancy, in this case you must check the CO2 tank expiration.


Before you head out to the water:

  1. Check your life jacket expiration date.
  2. Test your life jackets.
  3. Replace it if it can’t be used!

We hope these tips help you stay safe this summer!

Let us know what you think in the comments below


Found this information helpful? For more water safety tips check out our blog articles on The Best Sunscreen For Your Child or 10 Safety Tips For Your Pool.