Frequently Asked Questions
How to care for your PFD?
During your day on the water, avoid leaving your PFD in direct sun for long periods of time. This can cause deterioration and fading of fabrics. After every water outing there are several things that should be done:
- If used in salt water, rinse PFD with clean water.
- Rinse off any mud, sand or visible stains.
- After rinsing, let the PFD drip dry before stowing. Never try to speed the drying time by using a clothes dryer or any type of direct heat. It is best to allow the PFD to dry out of direct sunlight if possible.
- Check each PFD for rips, tears or holes. Be certain that all straps are firmly attached and that all hardware is functioning correctly.
- After the PFD is dry to the touch, check for any puckering or shrinkage. Be sure that no water is caught in the interior foam and that there is no mildew odor.
- PFDs should be stored in a dry, cool, dark place. If stowing in a small space on a boat or in a plastic bin, do not bend or place heavy objects on top of the PFD as this can cause crushing and damage performance.
- Never store a heavily soiled PFD. Stains become food for mold and mildew growth which weakens fabrics and destroy the effectiveness of the device.
- When PFDs are not going to be used for an extended period of time, remove them from the boat or any potentially damp storage area. They will last much longer if stored in conditioned, even temperature and humidity location.
What you need to clean your PFD?
- Laundry or dish detergent with enzymes to cut grease (Tide, Dawn)
- Plastic bucket
- Soft bristle brush
- Water hose
- Drying rack or clothesline
How to thoroughly clean your PFD?
PFDs should be cleaned immediately if stains like mud, food or sunscreen are visible. Even those that "look clean" should be cleaned monthly or at the end of the season. Every wearing leaves oils from skin and sun care products on the fabric.
Place the PFD, with all straps and hardware unfastened, on the tarp and using the detergent solution and soft brush, scrub each side of the PFD. For tough stains like red mud or food, apply a dab of the detergent directly onto the stain.
Work it in with the brush then allow the PFD to sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing. Rinse well using a hose or plenty of water smoothing the fabric to get into any crevices. Hang the PFD to drip dry, preferably out of direct sunlight. If you must hang inside to dry, use a rotating fan to speed the process.
Never place a life PFD in a clothes dryer. If the PFD has mold or mildew, move to an outside area and brush away any visible spores before wetting the fabric. Scrub as suggested but add 1/4 cup of oxygen based bleach to the cleaning solution. This will help remove the dark stains. Do not use chlorine bleach directly on the PFD as it will weaken fabrics and WILL damage the interior foam.
NEVER attempt to clean a PFD with industrial cleaning agents or something like gasoline or paint thinner. They WILL dissolve the foam that makes the device functional and weaken the exterior fabric.
Never place a PFD in a washing machine. The agitation will break the foam and render the PFD useless.
With care, most PFDs can last many years. However, there comes a time that the PFD must be replaced. PFDs should be tested at the beginning of every season or periodically if you live in a year-round water friendly climate. A reputable Force 6 dealer can check the devices or you can do it yourself by testing buoyancy in a pool. A safe device should be able to keep an average-sized person afloat for several hours.
If the outer fabric or covering is torn or has started to split or break down, the jacket is not safe. The flotation material can escape and cause a disaster. If the material is highly faded and you suspect that the fabric is weak, try tugging on a strap or pinch the fabric and try to tear it. If it tears, discard the jacket.
Inspect the foam or padding by squeezing lightly. If the foam feels hard, brittle or broken, the jacket should be replaced.
Any PFD infested with mold should be discarded to avoid inhaling mold spores. It is quite possible that the mold has moved into the padding and the PFD is no longer safe.
Before discarding a PFD, cut off all straps and even cut it into pieces to prevent others from mistaking it as a viable safety device.