Why Bulletproof Vests Expire?

We all recognize bulletproof vests as one of the most important life-saving devices available today. Made of layers of fibers that work together to stop bullets, they are an affordable way to protect human life against gunfire.

How bulletproof vests work

The secret to stopping a bullet is Kevlar®, one brand of Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), a fiber that is layered and strong in its make-up. Originally developed as an alternative to steel-belted tires, the layering of the fibers has proven to be strong and resilient enough to stop a bullet.

These amazing fibers do more than stop bullets. They save the lives of brave men and women who are tasked with protecting our communities and our country each and every day. Bulletproof vests are essential to every law enforcement agency and branch of military.

Like most things, these vests have specific care instructions and expiration dates outlined and recommended the manufacturer. Most providers warrant their vests a five-year life. This short span of time is the direct result of fibers breaking down over time which causes them to lose their ability to perform as expected.

Although it may still stop a bullet at year six, there is no guarantee that with each passing year the performance will diminish. The risk of using an expired vest goes well beyond the cost of a replacement.

You need to take into consideration that other environmental factors and conditions may shorten the lifespan of the bulletproof vest, as well. Exposure to water and/or heat may greatly reduce the efficacy of the vest. If a vest is ever saturated with water, it should be replaced immediately. Experts recommend that you never rely on an expired bulletproof vest, or purchase a used one.

Law Enforcement Asset Tracking Software

Now that we know what a bulletproof vest is, does and has an expiration date, how should you ensure your officer’s and departments’ safety? The vest’s expiration date and information on exposure should be documented in your asset management software. This data can easily be used to determine if your vest inventory is field-ready and trustworthy at all times. There is no easy way to test if a vest has been compromised, other than shooting it. So, as a matter of life or death and to protect those who take care of the rest of us, it is good to know when it is time for replacement so you can budget accordingly.

Keeping track of your department’s bulletproof vests, on top of all the other assets you may have, could seem daunting. However, with the correct inventory management software, this will be easier.  Start increasing your department’s efficiency and stop wasting time with spreadsheets, start using software that is built for you.

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