Incorrect CO2 cylinder installation alert

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Last week’s column spoke about a maritime safety issue reported by the U.S. Coast Guard in a Safety Alert. The feedback from News-Herald readers has been very positive so I wanted to highlight the most recent alert from the Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Analysis, which reported on incorrect CO2 cylinder installation/false positive service indicators.

The Alert 4-05 dated June 22 provided the following information from the Coast Guard Web site, http://marineinvestigations.us: &uot;Recently the U.S. Coast Guard has become aware of a potential problem when installing CO2 cylinders that have bayonet tips in inflatable personal flotation devices (PFDs or life jackets). If a cylinder is not properly installed, the PFD will not inflate with CO2. The problem may affect several thousands PFDs, but the Coast Guard is only aware of one incident to date.&uot;

The alert went on to describe specifics: &uot;Some Mustang, Protexion, and Stearns/SO-Spenders PFDs using Halkey-Roberts’ inflators can indicate a green ‘Ready’ status when the CO2 cylinder is not properly installed.

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This false positive green indication occurs when the cylinder-bayonet assembly is inserted in the inflator, not turned, and the cylinder is not ejected.&uot;

The alert continued, &uot;Cylinders with bayonet tips are designed to be pushed in and turned 1/8th turn clockwise to a full stop to secure the cylinder.

When the cylinder is not turned to secure it in place, the PFD will not inflate with CO2.&uot;

The result is that the user must inflate the device themselves. If the CO2 cylinder is not turned, the mechanism is supposed to eject it. In some production units a false positive green indication can be achieved by simply pushing the cylinder into the mechanism without turning it 1/8th turn to a full stop.

I recommend that boaters go to the Web site above and check specific information on manufacturer, PFD Model numbers, and contact information. Furthermore, once the manufacturer is determined, individual Web site links are provided in the alert for boaters to visit online.

There are other PFD related alerts and recalls out there. For more information from your United States Coast Guard please go to: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mse4/recall.htm.

Next week, you and I will wish the Coast Guard a happy birthday!

Until then…boat safe, and boat smart!

Joe DiRenzo is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and lives in Suffolk. He can be reached at j.direnzo@charter.net.