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To avoid a repeat of last year’s drowning statistics, Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is calling on Government to make urgent changes to regulations requiring everyone on small boats to wear a life jacket. Of 90 drowning fatalities last year, 19 were boating-related. And five-year figures reveal that two-thirds of all small-boat drownings were in people not wearing life jackets.

Daniel Gerrard, WSNZ Chief Executive, said: “Like seat belts, life jackets save lives. We are the agency responsible for coordinating our water safety organisations, and the sector is critical of inconsistent, poorly applied life jacket guidelines. Ten-year data confirm that 70 per cent of fatal drownings involved boaties not wearing life jackets - fatalities preventable through an enforceable, national standard for life jacket use.”

Gerrard confirms that WSNZ has requested Michael Wood, Minister of Transport, to urgently implement a national standard for life jacket use before this summer. “It could be as simple as requiring all persons on recreational vessels of six metres or less in length, to wear a personal flotation device at all times,” Gerrard said.

“Currently, each skipper is legally required to carry a correctly sized life jacket for each person on board with responsibility for their use in situations of heightened risk. However, this regulation is subject to regional interpretation.”

“New Zealanders are confused by existing life jacket requirements, and it's time for the Government to help us all resolve these inconsistencies. The introduction of standardised national regulations will enable sector agencies to provide consistent messaging and turn boating fatalities into survivals. We have a collective obligation to mitigate New Zealand’s alarming drowning rate and research confirms that life jacket use is an achievable step in this direction,” said Gerrard.



Life Jackets…They Float, You Don’t!!!

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