The most important element of PFD maintenance is washing, drying and storing it correctly after use. Once you come home, wipe the device down with a solution of mild soap and warm water, then rinse it with a hose or a bucket of water. This will remove any dirt, chemicals or salt which may damage your PFD over time. Once you have cleaned it, hang the PFD up to dry in a cool, well-ventilated area; do not use a hairdryer, radiator or tumble dryer, and do not leave it in direct sunlight.
Next, you should inspect the state of your PFD regularly to review its integrity. Check that all hooks, pockets, snaps and latches are functioning properly; if they are broken or worn, it may be unsafe to continue using the device. You should also inspect the device’s webbing, which should not have been ripped or become unattached. Assuming you have cleaned it regularly and correctly, there should be no sign of mould or mildew on the PFD.
If your PFD is damaged, broken or poorly maintained, it may not perform correctly and could be unsafe to use. It is also important that the device is comfortable and fits correctly, otherwise, you may not wear it when you should. In these scenarios, it is time to replace it. Do not put off replacing your PFD – this is the most important piece of equipment you will use in paddleboarding, so it should be treated with the urgency it requires.