Life Raft Inspection: What You Need to Know

When you're out at sea, a life raft is more than just a piece of equipment. It's your lifeline, your last line of defense against the unforgiving ocean. Given its importance, regular life raft inspections are not just a good idea, they're a necessity. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about life raft inspections.

Why Regular Inspection is Crucial

Life rafts are made up of various components that work together to keep you safe and afloat in the event of a disaster. However, over time, these components can degrade due to factors such as harsh sea conditions, temperature fluctuations, and general wear and tear.

Regular inspections help identify and address any potential issues early, ensuring that your life raft will function as intended when you need it most. It's also worth noting that regular life raft inspections are a requirement under many maritime laws and safety standards.

Everything you need to know about life rafts | SVB
6 Man Life Raft in Rough Seas

What Happens During an Inspection

During a life raft inspection, qualified inspectors thoroughly check the life raft and its components. Here's what you can expect:

  • Physical Inspection: The life raft is visually inspected for any signs of damage or wear. This includes checking the canopy, floor, buoyancy tubes, and seams.
  • Pressure Test: The life raft is inflated and left for a period of time to check for any leaks.
  • Equipment Check: The survival equipment that comes with the life raft, like flares, paddles, and first aid kits, is inspected and replaced if necessary.
  • Repacking: After inspection, the life raft is carefully repacked to ensure it will inflate correctly when needed.

Understanding Service Intervals

Just like any safety equipment, life rafts have specific service intervals that owners need to adhere to. The frequency of these inspections largely depends on the type of raft and its usage:

  • Commercial Life Rafts: Due to their heavy use and the critical nature of their function, commercial life rafts should be inspected annually. This ensures they're always ready to perform in emergency situations, keeping commercial crews safe at sea.
  • Recreational Life Rafts: Recreational life rafts, while equally important for safety, are typically subjected to less frequent use and harsh conditions than their commercial counterparts. As such, these rafts should be inspected every three years. Storing the life raft in a dry area can help to prolong the life span of the raft.


Life raft inspections are a vital part of marine safety. By understanding what an inspection involves and ensuring your life raft is regularly inspected by certified professionals, you're taking a significant step towards ensuring safety at sea.

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