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Published: 2007-02-02 00:00:00

Waikato boaties are on the ball, according to the preliminary results of a regional life jacket survey.

The survey, targeting boats ramps across the Waikato, began in December and is being carried out in association with Maritime New Zealand.

Surveys at 34 of the 38 boat ramps to be targeted have now been completed, with the remaining four to be done this Saturday.

Data currently being collated by Environment Waikato shows only 35 of the 1037 vessels surveyed so far did not comply with life jacket regulations.

“That’s a compliance rate of about 97 per cent, which is an excellent result,” said Environment Waikato’s acting navigation safety manager Shelley Monrad.

“However, although almost all vessels surveyed were carrying life jackets on board as required by law, a low percentage of adults were actually choosing to wear them, so there is room for improvement. On the positive side, nearly every child on the vessels surveyed was wearing a lifejacket and that’s great to see.

“Life jackets save lives provided they are worn and fitted correctly and are sized appropriately, and people seem to be taking notice of these messages, which is fantastic.”

The survey will be used to assess the effectiveness of major life jacket campaigns undertaken by Environment Waikato and Maritime New Zealand. It covered a range of vessels including yachts, powerboats, jet skis, barges, launches and kayaks.

Anyone in charge of a vessel must provide a correctly sized life jacket for every person on board. These should be worn by children at all times. Adults are required to wear them when crossing a bar or in adverse weather conditions. Life jackets must be stored in an easily accessible location when not in use.

“It’s also important to regularly check your life jacket is still buoyant by testing it in a pool or in safe, shallow conditions,” Ms Monrad said.

“Old life jackets can be like lead weights and actually pull you under the water.”

The life jacket survey covers Whitianga, Whangamata, Tairua, Coromandel, Port Charles, Whangapoua, Kuaotuna, Thames, Raglan, Kawhia, Marokopa, Lake Karapiro, Arapuni, Whakamaru, Maraetai, Port Waikato, Hamilton and Ngaruawahia.