Safety first es­sen­tial when boaties go out


Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By CHE BAKER

New Zealan­ders are known to have a love of fish­ing, jet boat­ing and pretty much all wa­ter sports. How­ever, the love of the wa­ter turns deadly more times than peo­ple ex­pect and New Zealand has one of the high­est drown­ing rates for a de­vel­oped coun­try. Drown­ing was con­sis­tently the third high­est cause of un­in­ten­tional death in New Zealand, sur­passed only by road ve­hi­cle crashes and ac­ci­den­tal falls. In the Queen­stown Lakes dis­trict it was com­pul­sory to wear a life jacket at all times in any boat un­der six me­tres. Queen­stown har­bour mas­ter Marty Black said the area led the way bring­ing in the by-law and ‘‘even if it only saves one life it’s worth it’’. In the past five weeks at least eight peo­ple re­ceived $300 fines for not fol­low­ing the rule. Mr Black said fol­low­ing sim­ple boat­ing rules was im­por­tant to stay safe. Th­ese in­clude check­ing weather fore­casts, telling some­one your plans, not over­load­ing the boat, mak­ing sure on boats over six me­tres there were enough life­jack­ets for those on board and keep­ing al­co­hol to a min­i­mum. Cen­tral Otago har­bour­mas­ter Shayne Hitch­cock said the keep right rule and trav­el­ling within five knots of another ves­sel, raft or swimmers were the two rules that strin­gently needed to be fol­lowed. ‘‘They are the main is­sues in re­cre­ational lakes like Lake Dunstan and they (the rules) are there for a good rea­son,’’ Mr Hitch­cock said. Fol­low some sim­ple ad­vice to make sure you and your fam­ily are safe in the wa­ter dur­ing the sum­mer months:

Check the boat, en­gine and equip­ment be­fore head­ing out onto the wa­ter.

Check the weather fore­cast be­fore leav­ing.

Al­ways tell some­one where you are go­ing and when you plan to re­turn.

Know the rules – get a copy of the Wa­ter­ways By­law (see re­lated links) Never over­load the boat. Make sure there are enough life jack­ets on board for ev­ery­one on the boat.

Make sure you have an an­chor, bailer, spare fuel, torch and warm cloth­ing on the boat. Avoid al­co­hol. Al­ways have two means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, for ex­am­ple cell phone, flares.

Source QLDC Ev­ery year more boaties were ar­riv­ing in the area to make the most of the con­di­tions and while wear­ing a life jacket on Lake Dunstan was not com­pul­sory Mr Hitch­cock said it was vi­tal they were worn. ‘‘It’s like jump­ing into a car and putting your seat­belt on. It’s get­ting into your boat and putting on your life jacket,’ he said. Mr Hitch­cock said the cour­tesy of jet skiers around other peo­ple will be closely mon­i­tored this sum­mer. Pub­lic Health South health med­i­cal of­fi­cer Derek Bell said be­fore you head to the river or the beach this sum­mer think about the qual­ity of the wa­ter you are swim­ming in, par­tic­u­larly af­ter heavy rain­fall.

Swim­ming in murky wa­ter or af­ter heavy rain in­creased the risk of you and your fam­ily get­ting sick.

‘‘Wa­ter qual­ity is known to de­te­ri­o­rate af­ter heavy rain be­cause of run-off from the land. In most cases health ef­fects are mi­nor and can in­clude eye, ear, nose and throat in­fec­tions.

‘‘Other po­ten­tially more harm­ful dis­eases are giar­dia­sis, sal­monel­losis and hep­ati­tis A,’’ Mr Bell said.

Keep your­self and your fam­ily safe by re­mem­ber­ing:

The safest time to swim is when there has been no heavy rain for at least two days and you can see your toes while stand­ing knee deep.

The safest ar­eas to col­lect shell­fish are away from river mouths, drains and pipes. The best time to col­lect shell­fish is af­ter five days of clear weather.

Gov­ern­ment re­ports re­leased in July show that some pop­u­lar swim­ming sites had de­te­ri­o­rated, so vig­i­lance is rec­om­mended.

‘‘It is im­por­tant to know what you are swim­ming in and po­ten­tially in­gest­ing as you swim,’’ Mr Bell said.


Stay safe: Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict har­bour­mas­ter Marty Black (left) along with Jen­nifer For­rest and wa­ter war­den Louis Adam­son aboard pa­trol jet­skis on Queen­stown Bay. Mr Black has warned boaties and river users to ex­pect pa­trollers to pop up any­where, any­time over the hol­i­day pe­riod and to en­sure they use life­jack­ets and obey wa­ter safety rules – or face the con­se­quences.

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