With agencies heavily promoting the wearing of lifejackets to keep people safe on the water this summer, Waikato Regional Council says it’s disappointing some people still aren’t taking things seriously.
Council maritime services staff were out patrolling between Whangamata and Tairua yesterday checking to make sure that people were wearing the right size lifejackets, especially in vessels less than six metres long where wearing lifejackets is mandatory.
“We came across a powerboat, less than six metres, with two adult males and a young boy aboard,” said maritime services manager Nicole Botherway.
“No-one had lifejackets on, including the child, estimated to be around 6-8 years old, which is a big mistake as children are more vulnerable and should always have lifejackets on.
“When asked to put their lifejackets on, as per the council’s bylaw, one man put on a lifejacket two sizes too big for him and, worse, an adult’s XL lifejacket was put on the small boy.”
Staff felt there was no way that this lifejacket would have stayed on the boy if he went into the water, Mrs Botherway said.
“The men failed to make sure this boy was in the safest possible situation and when we discussed the issue with them they acted arrogantly and dismissively towards our staff.”
Two men aboard another vessel took five minutes to find their lifejackets when asked to put them on and then had to take them out of their new packets as they’d never been used before.
“People in an emergency situation will not have five minutes to find their lifejacket and take it out of its packet. If they’re already in the water it will be nearly impossible to put on.”
Mrs Botherway urged boaties to always think about “what if” scenarios and be aware that wearing well fitting lifejackets is required in boats six metres or less, or in situations of higher risk. In bigger vessels in circumstances where wearing them is not mandatory lifejackets should still always be in a readily accessible location. Using crotch straps on lifejackets used by children will help ensure youngsters don’t fall out of them when in the water.
“Children can easily fall out of lifejackets if they’re too big so make sure their lifejacket is the right size for their age and weight,” said Mrs Botherway.