THE owner of Point Two says he “can’t stress enough” how important it is that air jackets are serviced regularly, after one failed to inflate in an accident.
A woman posted in an online forum stating she had fallen while wearing a PointTwo vest but remained “attached to the saddle” as the lanyard did not release. She added she had not had the jacket serviced in the two years she had owned it, and that PointTwo had been “very helpful”.
The manufacturer told H&H the mechanism was set wrongly when it was returned, something that would have been picked up in a service, which is recommended annually.
The rider, who did not want to be named, told H&H she was on a cross-country course when her horse bucked and she fell.
“It had never occurred to me that I could still be attached to the saddle if something went wrong,” she said.
“Everything went into slow motion. I had time to think; I knew my husband was at the top of the hill and thought ‘that’s ok, he’ll hear the jacket go off and know what’s happened’. Then I thought, ‘it hasn’t activated’.
“The horse took a big galloping stride and I was lifted off my feet. I pushed like hell against the saddle, then I was on the floor and he was galloping off with the canister still attached.
“He’s a very sensible horse, he’s 22 and should know better than to buck over a fence!”
Owner Lee Middleton said he had only seen three cases such as this in eight years and that although there was “nothing wrong” with the system used in the jacket concerned, it has since been replaced to combat common user errors.
“If you ever hear of an air jacket not going off – it doesn’t matter what brand – nine times out of 10, it’s been reset wrongly,” he said.
Mr Middleton said he has seen jackets arriving with him to be serviced set wrong “so many times”, and that he will take pictures of the errors, or Skype owners, to show them the errors.
He has also made videos demonstrating correct resetting procedure.
“We find things and stop them from happening before they happen,” he said.
“The only way to service a jacket is to remove the air bag. It could be set correctly but I’ve seen one in which someone had a fall on gravel and a sharp stone had put a hole in the air bag.
“In that case, the jacket will still blow up, and look fine, but in a fall, it won’t hold the correct pressure, which it has to do to stop you going straight through the air bag, it won’t be enough to protect you.”
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Mr Middleton also stressed that anyone buying a second-hand Point Two jacket should ask for its certificate, which would have been provided by the manufacturer to prove it had been serviced and had a new air bag.
“Life jackets on a plane hardly ever go off, but they’re serviced every year,” he said.
“These are lifesaving products, they have to work, you can’t find out in an accident. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get your jacket serviced.”
Rachel Ricci, co-founder of Hit-air, said: “We advise that air vests should be checked at least annually, or after a significant fall where the vest has taken a significant impact.