Summer – the season of death by water

Embed from Getty Images

It was the 1st of December on Friday, officially the beginning of summer.  As an island nation, we are never far from the sea, and we just love messing about in boats.

Tomorrow, Maritime NZ and nine councils will be starting a “No excuses” campaign for recreational boaties not carrying or wearing lifejackets and those who speed on the water.
Director of Maritime NZ Keith Manch said the councils will take action against boaties who break lifejacket and speed rules. This will include infringement notices of up to $300, depending on each council’s bylaws.
The Maritime Transport Act and council bylaws require carrying and wearing lifejackets. The five knot rule is in place within 200 metres of shore and divers, and within 50 metres of swimmers and other boats.
“We are focusing on no lifejackets and unsafe speed because they are two of the biggest risks of death and injury,” Mr Manch said.

He’s right.  From the 2016 Water Safety New Zealand report

POWERED BOATS Powered Boat Fatalities (14) up by four from 2015. This is the highest toll since 2012.  All Powered Boats fatalities were male. 43% were aged over 55 years and not wearing lifejackets.

Last week on Backchat, Hailstormers shared his story of rescuing two boaties:

screenshot- Whaleoil

We can only hope these guys learned a lesson, and they will never set out on a boating trip so ill-equipped again.

Question is, what made it seem like a good idea at the time?  Just a guess but I suspect there’s not a lot of any kind of thinking going on there.

Is it because they can’t afford the gear?  If you can’t afford to buy the safety gear, then you couldn’t afford to buy the boat you are about the set off in.

Is it because they think they are bullet proof and it won’t happen to them? How do we get through to guys like this?  Will it make any difference if they are caught and hit in the pocket?

Aside from these idiots who narrowly avoided becoming another tragedy, it’s not all bad news.

Overall, the statistics show that the number of deaths by drowning has dropped from a record high of 214 in 1985 to a record low of 81 in 2016.  So far we are sitting at 67 for the year, very similar to the same time last year.  So we are definitely heading in the right direction, which is encouraging.

We need to keep up the good work.  Educate yourself and your family about water safety, and obey the rules.  They are there for you and the safety of those who do their best to rescue those in trouble.  Have a fun and safe summer.

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