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NT News - Motoring - - MARINE GUIDE -

ONE of the biggest chal­lenges fac­ing boat­ing safety in Tas­ma­nia is ed­u­cat­ing users of in­flat­able life jack­ets.

Ma­rine and Safety Tas­ma­nia (MAST) claims about half of life jack­ets used by the boat­ing com­mu­nity are in­flat­able.

Based on reg­is­tra­tion num­bers, MAST es­ti­mated there could be as many as 150,000 life jack­ets in Tas­ma­nia alone, on recre­ational boats — about 78,000 in­flat­a­bles be­ing used.

Man­ager of recre­ational boat­ing Peter Hopkins said MAST con­ducted nu­mer­ous safety and flare dis­plays around the state and sur­veys at these events in­di­cated that no more than 10 per cent had their in­flat­a­bles ser­viced and checked as per the man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

He said in­flat­able life jack­ets, or PFDs as they were be­com­ing known, needed to be treated with re­spect and looked af­ter.

This was more so than the fa­mil­iar foam-filled jack­ets.

‘‘Who leaves the moor­ing, ma­rina or boat ramp ex­pect­ing to be in a ma­rine in­ci­dent?’’ he asked.

‘‘The an­swer is none of us, but it is well known that many in­ci­dents oc­cur, some of which do not reach me­dia out­lets and con­se­quently no pub­lic­ity is given to them,’’ he said. ‘‘For those who go boat­ing, there would have been times when you would have been in a sit­u­a­tion that ac­tu­ally had you and prob­a­bly those on board rea­son­ably concerned.

‘‘Once a per­son is in the wa­ter their chances of drown­ing in­creases, and these chances in­crease dra­mat­i­cally if they are wear­ing an in­flat­able and it does not work.

‘‘There have been cases where peo­ple have drowned due to jack­ets not in­flat­ing.

‘‘It may not be the jacket’s fault, the per­son wear­ing it may have knocked their head dur­ing the in­ci­dent or they were not given in­struc­tion on how to in­flate the jacket.

‘‘Be­tween ser­vic­ing own­ers of in­flat­a­bles should self test the jack­ets to en­sure they are work­ing.

‘‘This in­volves blow­ing them up man­u­ally and leav­ing them overnight to en­sure the blad­der is ok. Also en­sure the can­is­ter is tight and not rusty. It may only have to be a lit­tle loose for the can­is­ter not to work.

‘‘En­sure when you next go boat­ing to check your life jack­ets and please, have them ser­viced, it may just save your or the crew’s life,’’ he said.

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