Safer Boating Week began Friday, 16 October with a bit of fun underlining a serious message. Last year 27 people died in recreational boating accidents and today 27 representatives from the Safer Boating Forum took the plunge into Wellington Harbour – all wearing lifejackets – to remember those who have died. To date this year, another 16 boaties have died.
“Compounding these tragedies is that two-thirds of the people are likely to have survived if they had worn lifejackets,” Maritime New Zealand Director Keith Manch said. “More than 90 percent of people who die while recreational boating are men. Every one of them was a father, brother, son, husband and friend. Such deaths are devastating to the families and communities involved, and in many cases could be prevented by following basic safe boating rules, including wearing lifejackets.
“Safer Boating Week is about boaties taking simple steps to prepare before going out on the water so they avoid problems, and if problems arise, they are more likely to survive. If you are on the water when you discover a problem with your boat or equipment, or that you do not know an important safety rule, then it is too late and people are in danger.”
Thankfully, boating safety behaviour seems to be improving. In a recent survey 78 percent of boaties said they always wear a lifejacket on the water, and 60 percent said they always wear life jackets and ensure others on their boat do too.
- Prep your boat – service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery and just generally give the boat a good onceover.
- Check your gear – make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough. Service any inflatable lifejackets and ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment.
- Know the rules – ensure you know the ‘rules of the road’ on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area.