Protective gears are meant to increase the safety of its wearer from the fatal wounds that come from bullets and sharp objects.
However, note that these gears, including body armor, bulletproof vests, and ballistic inserts, have expiration dates.
As such, it is critical to know and understand body armor expiration dates and its implication to a person’s maximum protection.
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Why Do Body Armors Have An Expiration Date?
Most safety products, including bulletproof vests and plates, might degrade after a particular time frame. Body armor specifically has about 5 to 10 years of expiration period from the time it was made. You can always check the product description on the item or via the website of the product’s brand. Keep in mind that even though expired armors might still provide protection, it will not be as reliable as when it is not yet after its expiration date. So, why do these things have expiration dates?
According to manufacturers, an expiration date indicates the period where a product provides its maximum efficiency. It is the shelf life of an item. This condition goes the same for body armors and ballistic products. These products have chemical components like Kevlar, composite, or other types of fiber that might degrade after some time.
Factors That Affects The Expiry of Body Armor
Other than the expiration date indicated by the body armor’s manufacturer, other factors allow it to expire faster.
- Extreme Heat and Ultraviolet (UV) Light
When body armor, bulletproof vest, and bulletproof helmets are constantly exposed to extreme heat from the sun, it can also absorb its harmful UV rays.
According to studies, UV rays can also be a significant factor that lessens the shelf life of the protective gear. Extreme heat, on the other hand, may affect particular materials, which may cause it to deform.
Most bulletproof product users, such as the military, police enforcers, and security officers, have exposure to a damp environment, which could be more prominent during rainy and snowy weather.
Constant exposure can shorten the estimated expiration cut-off of the gear. For example, the expiration of your bulletproof vest is five years. Working in a humid location can make the degradation process faster, which means the vest can expire earlier than the given cut-off time.
- Wearer’s Weight Loss or Weight Gain
When the body armor’s wearer has a weight change, there can also be an effect on the quality of the gear.
If bulletproof vests or bulletproof clothing are pressed to fit when a wearer gains weight, there will be unnecessary stress applied to the ballistic panels.
On the other hand, if the bulletproof vest is not snuggly enough, the panels can move around the carrier, bumping each other. Constant bumping on each other will also lessen the quality of the panels.
- Internal damage
A bulletproof gear may look intact externally to a casual observer, and even to its frequent wearer.
However, the internal parts might have cracks, bendings, and warping from use. These damages might result in easier bullet penetration to the body armor, which could be fatal to the wearer.
- Hard Armor Versus Soft Armor
There are two types of body armor: hard armor and soft armor. Each type has its strengths and weakness, which make it essential for you to know what will work best to protect you based on your expected activity and environment.
Placing your bulletproof vest and carrier in hangers might stretch the garment, which reduces the elasticity of its material.
Over time, it might take the length of the hanger and might result in improper fitting to its wearer. Moreover, improper storage could also lead to moisture build-up, which again could cause earlier degradation of the bulletproof material.
Is It Okay To Wear An Expired Body Armor: Understanding the Risks
Let us put it this way. If a food expires, we know that we might encounter problems if we insist on eating it, right? It goes the same for expired body armor. Its wearer might have protection issues if he or she continues to wear one.
Many wearers say that body armor is still usable and will not immediately degrade a day after its expiration date. However, keep in mind that we are not talking about ordinary clothing here.
We are pertaining to gear that might be the only thing that saves you from imminent death. Your body armor must always be reliable and intact.
Using an expired, worn-out bulletproof vest can result in serious physical trauma by a shot or sharp object attack.
The worst scenario could even lead to fatality. It is for this reason why it is critical to follow the manufacturer’s guide and recommendation on the product’s expiration date. Because even if you think that your armor is still good to use after its expiry, untoward consequences may not be favorable to you after all.
How Often Should You Replace Your Protective Gear?
Bulletproof Zone recommends that you regularly assess your body armor, including your bulletproof vest, carrier, etc. for signs of internal and external damage.
If needed, have an expert inspect it for you, especially if you are on an ongoing mission.
If your gear was found to have signs of degradation, you should have it replaced with a more-recently made model.
It is essential to note that you may be required to replace your vest before its expected expiration date, depending on various circumstances (refer to the factors above).
Remember to choose the right vest for you, with the right size and right armor type. In the end, the outcome we want is for you to be safe even after encountering a dangerous situation.
Even with the various inevitable factors we mentioned above, there are a few techniques to ensure the integrity of your protective gear until its expiration date. Bulletproof Zone experts shared a few tips to extend the shelf life of your bulletproof product.
- Keep your protective gear clean. After use, you may hand wash your carriers and ballistic inserts with cold water and mild soap. Make sure to never submerge the inserts in the water for a long time.
- Avoid long-term exposure to rain and extreme sunlight. Rain builds up moisture in your gear, while extreme sunlight means high exposure to UV light.
- Store your protective gear properly. Your body armor must be laid flat. Placing it on hangers will stretch out the carrier straps, which might distort the correct shape and fit of the gear. Its storage must not be from where there is direct sunlight.
- Check your weight or body size now and then. If you noticed a weight gain or loss, find a replacement gear that will best fit your current body size.
- Observe a regular inspection of your body armor. If the damage can still be repaired, ensure to have it fixed as soon as possible. If not, it is time for you to replace it. It is also best to have your body armor checked by an expert, as the wearer tends to overlook small damages as he or she sees the item regularly.
Like other products, body armor, bulletproof vest, carrier, ballistic plates, and other protective gear have an expiration date, issued by their manufacturers.
The expiration date indicates the maximum time frame that the item does its purpose, which in this situation, is to protect its wearer.
However, other than the expiry date, other factors like humidity, exposure to UV rays, type of body armor, weight gain or loss of wearer, storage, and internal damage can hasten the degradation of the body armor’s materials.
Therefore, for maximum protection, ensure that the body armor you wear is intact, reliable, way before its expiration date, and is handled properly.
Moreover, if you are keen on having high-quality products that are made of the best materials in the market, check out Bulletproof Zone’s collections.
We have different types of protective gear, from ballistic vests, bulletproof plates, carriers, and even everyday protective clothing, such as bulletproof bags, coats, jackets, and caps. Nevertheless, let us know if you need assistance in choosing your gear, and we will gladly help you.
When was the last time that you got body armor from us? As a way to show our appreciation to our returning customers, we will give a SPECIAL DISCOUNT for those who would like to replace or additional plates. Reach out to us today through our email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be glad to hear from you soon.