The im­por­tance of crotch straps

With spring upon us, it’s a great time to check your life­jack­ets be­fore rush­ing into sum­mer boat­ing.

Boating NZ - - Safe Boat­ing - BNZ

Safer Boat­ing with Coast­guard

Those of you with young chil­dren or grand­chil­dren should check that the life­jacket that they used last sea­son is still suit­able. Young peo­ple not only grow out of their clothes and shoes – you may find that they can no longer fit the life­jacket they used last sum­mer.

There are two main types of life­jack­ets on the mar­ket for re­cre­ational boat­ies: foam jack­ets with pos­i­tive buoy­ancy, and in­flat­a­bles that re­quire air/co2 to pro­vide buoy­ancy. Choose the type that is ap­pro­pri­ate for the wearer and the type of boat­ing you’re do­ing.

In­flat­able life­jack­ets are won­der­ful pieces of kit – they’re com­fort­able to wear and pro­vide plenty of buoy­ancy when ac­ti­vated. How­ever, there are a cou­ple of things to be aware of. First, they come in au­to­matic and man­ual ac­ti­va­tion mod­els, so you need to con­sider how the wearer would re­act to be­ing un­ex­pect­edly in the wa­ter. Would they have the pres­ence of mind to pull the tog­gle on a man­ual jacket?

Per­haps an auto-in­flate or foam jacket might be more ap­pro­pri­ate for younger wear­ers or novice boat­ies.

Se­condly, in­flat­able jack­ets re­quire an an­nual in­spec­tion to make sure that the blad­der hasn’t been punc­tured, the gas can­is­ter hasn’t come loose, gone rusty or been ac­ci­den­tally ac­ti­vated and wrongly re­assem­bled (as was the tragic case in the NZ mil­i­tary sev­eral years ago). There are some ex­cel­lent youtube clips on ser­vic­ing a life­jacket from New Zealand com­pa­nies, but if in doubt, get your in­flat­able life­jacket pro­fes­sion­ally ser­viced.

Foam jack­ets should also be vis­ually in­spected to en­sure they are in good con­di­tion with straps and clips in good or­der. Foam jack­ets are de­signed for dif­fer­ent boat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­vide var­i­ous lev­els of buoy­ancy. Speak to your re­tailer or check out safer­boat­ing.org.nz to choose the right life­jacket for your boat­ing needs.

When do­ing your checks, you may find that you have old, bulky life­jack­ets on your boat like the or­ange ex­am­ple pic­tured. These kapok-style jack­ets are UN­SAFE and should not be used. With age they can ab­sorb wa­ter and cause the wearer to sink. Cut these up and take them out of cir­cu­la­tion, or else bring them to us and we’ll take them off your hands dur­ing our Old4new cam­paign kick­ing off in De­cem­ber (old4new.nz).

Which brings us to a small thing that can make a big dif­fer­ence: a sim­ple crotch strap. Some life­jack­ets come with these as stan­dard and oth­ers have them as an op­tional ex­tra. The ev­i­dence is com­pelling – fit­ting a crotch strap will im­prove the per­for­mance of your life­jacket (Lunt, White & Tip­ton, 2014).

The Trans­port Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion re­port on the Fran­cie tragedy in Novem­ber 2016 makes it clear that, “when a per­son wear­ing a life­jacket un­ex­pect­edly finds them­selves in the wa­ter, their chances of sur­viv­ing are sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved if the life­jacket is of the ap­pro­pri­ate type for the con­di­tions and size of the per­son, and is fit­ted with a crotch strap to pre­vent their los­ing it when it rides up and over their head.” If your life­jacket doesn’t have a crotch strap fit­ted, put it on your shop­ping list. If it’s good enough for Coast­guard crew to use them, you’d be mad not to fit them to your life­jack­ets.

A life­jacket is an es­sen­tial piece of boat­ing safety equip­ment so don’t be tempted to skimp on costs and do re­mem­ber to look af­ter it. Buy a good qual­ity jacket from a knowl­edge­able re­tailer and re­mem­ber that one size doesn’t fit all, so make sure you’re get­ting com­pe­tent ad­vice.

Have a great build up to sum­mer.

If your life­jacket doesn’t have a crotch strap fit­ted, put it on your shop­ping list.

ABOVE RIGHT Old­style kapok life­jack­ets are un­safe and should not be used.ABOVE An in­flat­able life­jacket should have a crotch strap fit­ted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.