Simple safety could save lives

By Kristin Edge

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The latest Search and Rescue statistics show two thirds of all serious SAR incidents in Northland are marine related.
The latest Search and Rescue statistics show two thirds of all serious SAR incidents in Northland are marine related.

Simple safety precautions could save lives as people hit Northland's coastline in boats and on foot.

After a winter of cabin fever, the first of the spring/summer season holidays often sees people drag out the boat and despite endless public education campaigns, take risks.

Search and Rescue (SAR) co-ordinator for Northland, Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said the safety checklist people should always apply was not complicated. It was simply a matter of common sense.

"The safety message has been pumped year in year out but people still ignore it. It's a simple message that saves lives," Mr Metcalfe said.

"Tell some one where you are going, service your outboard before you get on the water, have life jackets for everyone and have two forms of communication."

But the biggest single safety precaution was checking the weather forecast, he said.

"Keep a close on the weather and that goes for both sea and land."

Coastguard have been busy already making about one rescue a week of hapless boaties.

One of the rescues last week was of an inexperienced yachtie who managed to sail to the Poor Knights Islands but when the wind dropped he was unable to navigate his way back to Tutukaka and had to be towed.

The latest Search and Rescue statistics show two thirds of all serious SAR incidents in Northland are marine related.

Since 2010 until June this year there had been a total of 45 lives saved. If SAR agencies had not intervened, lives would have definitely been lost.

Over the same time period 202 people had been rescued and 167 people assisted.

The statistics also show during that period 35 pole died, of which 24 were in marine incidents and 11 on land. The fatalities happened before SAR had been notified.

"It's a huge burden on volunteers who have to be available over the holiday period when they should be out there enjoying Northland as well," Mr Metcalfe said.

"All we are asking is for people to be more careful. Do the basics properly and we wont have to come looking for them."

- Northern Advocate

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