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Published: 2014-12-16 00:00:00

Boaties are being reminded to ensure that any children they’re taking out boating this summer are wearing correctly fitting lifejackets.

“If lifejackets are too big there’s a real risk that kids will fall straight out of them once they hit the water,” said Waikato Regional Council maritime services manager Nicole Botherway.

“A lifejacket naturally floats, a person doesn’t.”

Recent research indicates about a third of children were wearing lifejackets that were “substantially” too large.

Mrs Botherway said council harbourmasters will be keeping a particular eye out for any cases where children’s lifejackets appear to be a poor fit.

“Last summer we saw way too many kids in lifejackets that were too large. A lifejacket needs to fit comfortably snug.

“A lifejacket that is well fitted will feel like a good handshake, firm but not too tight.”

Mrs Botherway said parents need to make sure that they, or anyone else taking their kids out, have the right gear for them.

“Drowning is a horrible way to die. Ensuring your children are wearing a correctly fitting lifejacket will put them in the best situation if they do end up in the water.

“Too many parents are getting lifejackets thinking their kids will grow into them but a lifejacket needs to be ready to help them now. This is safest for your child, and a legal requirement. Lifejackets must be an appropriate size to securely fit a person.”

Tips for checking whether a lifejacket is appropriate for a person are available at

Good safety tips include:

  • Check the weight guidelines for the lifejacket.
  • A maximum of three fingers should be able to be put under where the lifejacket contacts the shoulder.
  • Test lifejackets in shallow water.
  • Use of a crotch strap can help ensure lifejackets stay on children.

In Waikato waters, people in vessels six metres or less must wear lifejackets at all times.

In bigger vessels, the right lifejackets for those on board must be carried and worn in situations of high risk.