Lifejacket rules under review

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Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff attempt to put on lifejackets in the water.  Photo/Supplied
Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff attempt to put on lifejackets in the water. Photo/Supplied

A bunch of burly blokes have discovered how hard it is to put on a lifejacket in trying conditions.

The Navigation Safety Bylaw is currently being reviewed and the draft new version, which is currently open for submissions, includes a proposal that lifejackets must be worn at all times in vessels 6m or under unless the skipper advises otherwise.

Most accidents on the water occur suddenly with no warning. When that happens it maybe too late to try to find and put on a lifejacket.

As part of the review, a bunch of burly council blokes, aged between 30 - 60, thought they would see for themselves just how challenging it is. Representing the age group who make up 90 percent of recreational boating fatalities in New Zealand, they jumped into a 4.8m deep pool in their fishing gear, treaded water for 3 minutes, swum 30m and then attempted to get into a lifejacket.

They all eventually managed to get a lifejacket on, but none found it easy.

Reece Irving said that while it was exhausting it was achievable in those conditions.

"We were lucky that today's pool was 25 degrees, the reality is the ocean or lake you would be exhausted, freezing and wearing heavy clothes and it would be nearly impossible to get one of these on."

Another participant Adrian Heays said that while you can figure out how to put them on while in the boat, in the water they look completely different and it's hard to know where to start.

"It was a really valuable exercise, because you quickly learn how tough it is to put one of these on while in the water and adjust the straps. It goes back to the important message to get it on or it's no good," he said.

Tony Pearce said he couldn't believe that the inflatable lifejackets didn't float.

"Before we completed the exercise we threw a few inflatable lifejackets, that hadn't had their cord pulled, into the water and found that within 10 seconds they had sunk. While you would normally be wearing one of these it was really interesting."

For more information on the Navigation Safety Bylaw Review and how to make a submission visit www.boprc.govt.nz/navbylaw or call 0800 884 880.

Submissions close this Thursday, 7 July at 5pm.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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