Getting into a lifejacket while treading water is much harder than expected, Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff discovered.

Four Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff tried this for themselves when they jumped into a pool fully clothed and attempted to get into one of these lifesaving devices yesterday.

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.

As part of this review, four council staffers aged between 30 and 60 thought they would see for themselves just how challenging it was.


Representing the age group that made 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 three minutes, swum 30m, then attempted to get into a lifejacket.

The result was that all eventually managed to get a lifejacket on, but none found it easy.
One participant, Reece Irving, said that while it was exhausting, it was achievable in these conditions.

"We were lucky that [yesterday'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."

Tony Pearce said he could not believe that the inflatable lifejackets did not 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."

Adrian Heays said lifejackets looked completely different in the water and it was 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."

Submissions close Thursday at 5pm.