Time to check life­jack­ets thor­oughly

Coastal News - - News -

“Check your life­jack­ets.”

That is the mes­sage from Mar­itime NZ who says skip­pers must have life­jack­ets of the right size for ev­ery­one on board and en­sure ev­ery­one is wear­ing a life­jacket at times of height­ened risk.

“If they do not have life­jack­ets they can be fined and be pros­e­cuted but, in the most tragic sit­u­a­tion, no court penalty will ever match the death of a fam­ily mem­ber or a friend on your boat,” Safer Boat­ing Fo­rum Chair, Mar­itime NZ Deputy direc­tor Sharyn Forsyth said.

“The skip­per is legally re­spon­si­ble for the safety of their boat and all on board, and Mar­itime NZ takes a strong stance on this. This Safer Boat­ing Week we are fo­cus­ing on life­jack­ets be­cause they are your num­ber one piece of safety equip­ment and must be in good con­di­tion to save lives.”

She said be­fore get­ting on your boat con­sider: Do my life­jack­ets need re­plac­ing?

Man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend re­plac­ing life­jack­ets af­ter about 10 years, Ms Forsyth said.

Kapok-filled life­jack­ets should not be used at all. Even if they look brand new and have been well looked af­ter, should be re­placed and de­stroyed.

Kapok is a fluffy, cot­ton-like plant fi­bre that can ab­sorb wa­ter and cause wear­ers to sink. Many of these old life­jack­ets also have cot­ton straps. Cot­ton rots — even if a life­jacket is not used — and can tear or break off.

Sim­ple tests ev­ery time be­fore you go on the wa­ter: ■Pull the straps, hard. If any stretch or tear, do not use, and re­place it.

■ Check for tears or cuts in the straps. Check for any tears, cuts, or punc­tures in the life­jacket. If there are any, do not use the life­jacket, dis­pose of it, and re­place it.

■ Check if it floats.

■ More in­for­ma­tion about safety, stor­age, and de­tails for check­ing in­flat­able life­jack­ets is at www.mar­iti­menz.govt.nz/ life­jack­ets

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