NSW Maritime News 

WEAR IT!Focus on lifejackets for new marine safety campaign

A new marine safety campaign launched recently by Transport for NSW encourages people to always wear lifejackets whenever they are out on the water.

The campaign’s message is “a lifejacket never ruined a day on the water”. It’s all about letting people know there’s a style of lifejacket to suit everyone and about the importance of actually wearing them, not just having them stowed away on board.

The campaign is targeted at men in boats less than six metres long, whether they’re fishing with mates or out for a day on the water in a runabout with their family. It is in these boats most injuries and fatalities occur on NSW waterways.

No matter what size your boat is or why you’re out on the water, the lifejacket campaign’s message is just as important.

The latest figures from the Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs highlight the need for attitudes about lifejackets to change. In the 12 months to June this year, 19 people died on NSW waterways – 11 of these deaths were due to drowning and not one was wearing a lifejacket.

While there’s a lot of experience among the boating community, we all know the unexpected can happen quickly. Tragically, no amount of experience or swimming ability can save your life if you are unconscious, in cold shock or being dragged to the bottom by clothes – a lifejacket can help.

There is no single more important piece of safety equipment on a boat than a lifejacket. Modern lifejackets aren’t bulky and cumbersome like they were in the past. Lifejackets today are smartly designed, lightweight and can be worn all day without impacting your fun.

Supported by Yachting NSW, the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, the Boating Industry Association, Marine Rescue NSW and a host of other organisations with an interest in water safety, the campaign will extend to television, fishing and boating magazines, newspapers, outdoor billboards, direct mail, radio and online through digital advertising and social media. All this will be backed up with on-water education campaign support.

Changes to lifejacket safety rules

The launch of the new lifejacket safety campaign comes at the same time the Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs (OBSMA) has fine-tuned lifejacket laws.

“There’s no single more important piece of safety equipment on board a boat than a lifejacket,” OBSMA General Manager Howard Glenn said.

“While we hope that people will choose the best safety practice of everybody on board always wearing a lifejacket, there are situations of heightened risk where the law requires it.”

OBMSA has also released a Boating Incidents Report. This report shows that while there have been gains in reducing the fatal incident rate, lives are still being lost in boating incidents. Too often lives are lost following a capsize or when fall overboard, where the person was not wearing a lifejacket.

Among the recent modifications to the lifejacket laws include:

• requiring people aboard vessels less than 4.8 metres to wear lifejackets at all times between sunset and sunrise;

• requiring canoeists and kayakers to wear lifejackets at all times when on white water;

• clarifying that inflatable lifejackets that have been purchased or acquired new less than 12 months ago are considered to be appropriate, regardless of when they were manufactured;

• amending an existing clause that requires a person to wear a lifejacket if he or she is boating alone in a small vessel without emergency assistance, to allow the company of a young person to qualify as emergency assistance if the young person is the holder of a boating licence.

“Boating safety officers carry out random inspections of recreational and commercial vessels across NSW waterways,” Mr Glenn said.

“Their role is primarily education and safety, but they do have enforcement powers and penalties apply for non-compliance.”

For more information about lifejacket safety visit lifejacketwearit.com.au.