Life raft manufacturer Switlik Parachute Company of Trenton, N.J has announced a safety alert for some units due to potentially defective inflation valves.  According to the alert, O-rings on the valves (P/N S-2630) found on certain models manufactured since 1996 may allow gas to escape from the cylinder “under very limited circumstances.”  The company stresses in their release that the problem “is not obvious and could cause false reliance on a life raft that, if needed, will not inflate and function as a life saving device.” 

    Switlik states the affected units (located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Great Lakes regions) were exposed first to unusually high temperatures (greater than 950F) during the summer of 2003, then abnormally cold temperatures (approaching 00F ) during the winter of 2004.  The company maintains, however, that these temperatures “were well within the operational high and low extremes to which the rafts have been tested to and approved or certified” and that “the leakage occurred when the rafts were exposed to a sequence of high followed by low temperatures and very specific temperature ranges inside the extremes of published standards.”

     Switlik, which requires annual servicing of its life rafts, states it will provide and install (free of charge) a new Piston and O-Ring replacement kit at time of servicing that functions properly within the approved temperature ranges.    Service Bulletin #SIB-04106 (describing the corrective action to be taken) has been released to all authorized service facilities.

To determine if your life raft is affected, contact one of the Switlik Service Stations listed at www.switlik.com or call (609) 587-3300.