3,000 boaties safer as summer draws to a close
Over 3,000 water users are now safer on the water as summer draws to a close, thanks to Coastguard’s 'Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade Campaign'.
The campaign, which encouraged boaties to trade in their old lifejacket for a discount on a brand new, modern Hutchwilco lifejacket, came to a close in February, after trading in over 3,000 old, damaged or obsolete lifejackets at 40 boat ramps throughout the country.
The Old4New van racked up over 7,000kms as the team visited communities from Paihia in the Far North, to Akaroa in Canterbury, with retailer Boating & Outdoors also honouring the deals in their 23 stores nationwide.
This year was the first time the campaign had gone nationwide, made possible by $75,000 of funding from Maritime New Zealand. "After two successful years of outfitting boaties with new lifejackets in the heavily populated boating areas in the north, we knew there was demand from the rest of the country," said Patrick Holmes, CEO of Coastguard New Zealand. "The support from Maritime New Zealand and our sponsors have helped us bring this life-saving campaign to boaties nationwide."
The Old4New team were available to provide advice on lifejacket use and care, as well as helping boaties select the best lifejacket for their type of boating. The team also shared key safety messages and encouraged safe boating practises, including wearing (not just taking) your lifejacket when aboard your boat, checking marine weather and taking at least two forms of waterproof communications. These precautions are invaluable, especially during the hot summer months – months which often see high rates of water fatalities.
"Last year, 108 people died due to drowning across the country. In many cases these could have been prevented, many with a modern, fit-for-purpose lifejacket – it’s a vital part of your boating safety."
"Thanks to the Old4New campaign 3,000 people – that’s equivalent to the population of a town such as Helensville or Raglan – are now safer on the water across the country," said Mr Holmes.
Of the lifejackets traded in, many had simply been grown out of. It’s vital that a lifejacket fit snugly, and be suitable for the type of boating you’re engaged in. "Many boaties brought in their children’s outgrown lifejackets, and traded up to a better fit, to keep their kids safe on the water."
Some of the lifejackets that were traded in were literally falling apart, and would not have saved a life if needed. In addition, some lifejackets were simply obsolete – the oldest lifejacket traded into the Old4New team was more than 40 years old, and was unlikely to provide sufficient buoyancy to keep the wearer afloat. It’s a good reminder to check your lifejacket, to ensure it’s in good condition. "It’s fantastic that the Old4New campaign was able to give kiwis the motivation to get sorted for summer," said Mr Holmes.
Mr Holmes says that, while it’s the skipper’s responsibility to ensure everyone on board is safe, "when it comes to the water, your safety starts with you. A lifejacket is a simple piece of equipment that would help save your life if you suddenly find yourself in the water."
"Wearing a lifejacket has never ruined a day on the water– it’s as simple as that."
The Old4New initiative doesn’t stop just because the van has finished its summer travels – of the traded-in lifejackets, over 300 still meet or exceed New Zealand safety standards, and will be distributed to in-need communities in the Pacific Islands.
Alongside significant funding from Maritime New Zealand, the Old4New campaign was made possible by kiwi companies Hutchwilco and the Giltrap Group, as well as retailer Boating & Outdoors who offered the trade-ins at their 23 stores nationwide during specific weeks of the campaign.