Spring is just around the corner, hopefully bringing warmer weather and more enticement to enjoy our local lakes.
However, with this mind, local organisations are asking the community to remember important water safety messages.
Dave White, regional water safety strategy manager for the Bay of Plenty, says with the warmer weather approaching, the water will be more inviting.
"We'll see an increase in the number of people getting involved with water-based recreational activity, but the warmer weather doesn't mean it's safer."
He says for those boating it's important to ensure that all who are in, on or around the water are wearing lifejackets, and that there's at least two forms of water-proof communication on board a vessel.
Dave says it's important for the Rotorua community to be water safety conscious as it is often perceived that fresh water is safer than salt water, but this simply isn't the case.
"Fresh water is less buoyant and rivers often have hidden dangers, such as rocks or debris from trees.
"Covid-19 and the lockdown also cut everyone's summer short last season, so it's possible we'll see an influx in number of boats, jet skis and people on our lakes."
He says it's important to teach tamariki the basic water safety skills – to always wear a lifejacket, never go alone, to check for rocks or hidden dangers, and also check the depth before jumping into the water.
"Parents with under-5s should also have their tamariki within arm's reach at all times – it only takes a few seconds for disaster to happen.
"We urge the Rotorua community to stay safe on our waters at all times. It doesn't take much to ensure you and your whanau get to come home safely. If everyone does their part, our waters will be safer for everyone.
Coastguard Rotorua Lakes immediate past president Richard Packham says "a lifejacket never ruined anyone's day out".
He says when there has been tragedy, there is usually a lack of lifejackets involved.
He also reminds people to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
"We can't wait for summer and are looking forward to seeing everyone get out there, enjoying our beautiful lakes and waterways."
For more information on boating safely, such as boating safety code, marine weather, call signs and communication, go to www.coastguard.nz.
- Dave White is the regional water safety strategy manager for the Bay of Plenty, housed by Sport Bay of Plenty, and reporting to Water Safety Bay of Plenty.
Maritime NZ messages
As the weather gets warmer and more people take to the water, Maritime NZ reminds people to:
- Prep your boat – regularly service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery, and generally give the boat a good once-over. All vessels need to be maintained.
- Check your gear – make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough for everyone. Service any inflatable lifejackets and ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment.
- Know the rules – ensure you know the rules of the road on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area. Boaties should know, understand and follow the rules.
Source: Michael-Paul Abbott, compliance manager central, Maritime NZ