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Published: 2011-10-14 00:00:00

As the summer boating season is set to kick off at Labour Weekend, Waikato Regional Council is reminding boaties about the need to carry enough lifejackets for everyone on board.

A survey last summer of 1172 vessel users at 30 boat ramps across the Waikato – mostly on the Coromandel coast – showed more than five per cent still weren’t following the requirement to have enough lifejackets for everyone on board.

Nearly a fifth of children observed during the survey weren’t wearing lifejackets. Taking into account the swimming ability of children 12 and under, plus their mental ability to cope with emergency situations, they are considered to be at higher risk on the water and under the council’s bylaws must wear a life jacket.

“To improve boat safety this summer, we strongly encourage boaties to make sure they have the right amount of correctly fitting lifejackets and that children wear them when on the water,” said navigation safety programme manager Nicole Botherway.

“By following these simple guidelines, boat  owners and their passengers will significantly increase their chances of a safe summer on the water.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Botherway said that boaties taking to the water anew over summer should ensure their boats and gear are up to scratch.

“Things can go wrong on the water very quickly. So it’s important to be well prepared, with a sound vessel and equipment, and make sensible choices about what weather to go out in and about where to go. These simple precautions will improve your safety, and if you do end up in the water, will increase your chances of survival.”

Two waterproof forms of communication should be carried at all times when on the water, she added.

The ideal was having a marine VHF radio or distress beacon (PLIB or EPIRB) clipped to clothing or lifejackets, with a cellphone in a sealed plastic bag as a back up.

Other safety tips included:

  • Having engines serviced before use
  • Ensuring fuel is fresh
  • Having an emergency plan
  • Checking weather forecasts
  • Limiting alcohol consumption while on boats
  • Knowing the rules

For more information visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/navigation or call 0800 800 401.