Skip­pers urged to check all life­jack­ets

Te Puke Times - - NEWS / COMMUNITY -

Mar­itime NZ is ask­ing skip­pers of all recre­ational boats, no mat­ter how big or small, to “check your life­jack­ets”.

The skip­per must have life­jack­ets of the right size for ev­ery­one on board and must en­sure ev­ery­one is wear­ing a life­jacket at times of height­ened risk.

“If they do not have life­jack­ets they can be fined and can 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,” says Safer Boat­ing Fo­rum chair­woman and Mar­itime NZ deputy di­rec­tor Sharyn Forsyth.

“The skip­per is legally re­spon­si­ble for the safety of their boat and all on board, and Mar­itime NZ takes a strong stance on this.

“We are fo­cus­ing on life­jack­ets be­cause they are your num­ber one piece of safety equip­ment and must be in good con­di­tion to save lives.

“Be­fore get­ting your boat out again con­sider se­ri­ously: ‘Do my life­jack­ets need re­plac­ing?’ Man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend re­plac­ing life­jack­ets af­ter about 10 years,” Ms Forsyth says.

Kapok-filled life­jack­ets should not be used at all. They have not been made since the 1980s and, 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 over time — even if a life­jacket is not used — and in an emer­gency can tear or break off.

Sim­ple tests for other styles of life­jack­ets to do ev­ery time be­fore you go on the water:

■ Pull the straps, hard. If any of them stretch or tear, do not use the life­jacket, dis­pose of it, and re­place it.

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

■ 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.

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

Check you have enough life­jack­ets and they are up to the job be­fore set­ting out on the water.

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