Boating Related Fatalities up 23 per cent on Last Year

Boating related fatalities are up 23 per cent on this time last year and Coastguard strongly urges anyone heading out on the water to get prepared before heading out this holiday season.

“There are too many boating tragedies in New Zealand and Coastguard cannot stress enough the importance of skipper responsibility; the skipper is responsible for every person on board the boat. There are a number of factors that can lead to trouble on the water – and if you’re not prepared, the chance of a positive outcome is greatly reduced. Research shows that people wear life jackets on the insistence of a skipper or boat club; skippers have an obligation to take responsibility for their passenger’s safety.” said Patrick Holmes, CEO Coastguard New Zealand.

“Life jackets save lives. Take them and wear them – they are your best protection when the unexpected happens. Not wearing a life jacket is the leading risk factor for boating fatalities. Life jackets should be worn at all times; accidents are by definition unpredictable and it is extremely difficult to put on a life jacket once you are in the water. Many boaties drown less than 200 metres from shore.” said Holmes.

The excessive consumption of alcohol on board a boat needlessly puts people at risk. Operating a boat is not a simple task and the effects of alcohol are exaggerated on the water. Alcohol is one of the key risk factors in boating accidents. If you do choose to drink on the water, limit yourself to one (or less) standard drink per hour, however the best policy is to wait until you’re on dry land.

New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable, so make sure you check the local marine weather forecast before you head out. It’s also a good idea to download the Coastguard app on your phone (available on both iOS and Android platforms), which provides up-to-the minute live wind data including direction, actual peak and average speed, weather situation and forecasts for recreational boating and coastal sea areas and tidal information, including time and height. And always take two types of communication, rather than just relying on a cell phone. Coastguard recommends that boaties carry a marine VHF radio as a more reliable form of communication.

“The summer season is a great time to get out on the water and enjoy the warmer weather with family and friends however it’s important to remember the simple safety rules amongst all of the fun. “These five simple rules could save your life”

1. Skipper Responsibility
The skipper is responsible for the safety of everyone on board and for the safe operation of the boat. Stay within the limits of your vessel and your experience. Take a Coastguard Boating Education Course, like Day Skipper, Boatmaster and marine VHF radio training -
2. Life Jackets: Take them – Wear them.
Boats, especially ones under 6m in length, can sink very quickly. Wearing a life jacket increases your survival time in the water.
3. Communications
Take two separate waterproof ways of communicating so we can help you if you get into difficulties.
4. Marine Weather
New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the local marine weather forecast before you go and expect both weather and sea state changes.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Safe boating and alcohol do not mix. Things can change quickly on the water. You need to stay alert and aware.

For more information contact:
Monique Caddy
National Communications Manager
Coastguard New Zealand
M: 021 420 653

About Coastguard New Zealand:
Coastguard is the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service. The organisation operates from a network of four regions and 70 affiliated units, located around the coastline and major lakes of New Zealand. Coastguard New Zealand is a volunteer organisation with a charitable status. It has more than 2,320 active search and rescue Volunteers who provide over 315,000 hours of their time each year to educate, protect and help save lives at sea. Coastguard performed over 2,840 rescues to bring 7,334 New Zealanders home safely this past year. There are 78 dedicated rescue vessels in Coastguard New Zealand’s fleet, nine air patrol units and one dedicated communications unit. All crew members on board Coastguard vessels and air patrol craft are trained search and rescue personnel working to enhance the safety of all New Zealanders when they participate in boating and water activities.

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