Water Safety New Zealand is urging boaties, recreational fishers and divers to follow safety guidelines as lockdown restrictions ease.
“Boaties have been looking forward to the opportunity to get back out on the water. We just need everyone to take the necessary precautions so our frontline rescue services do not get overrun” says WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills.
Boaties are reminded to do all their gear and engine checks, make sure they have lifejackets for everyone on board as well as two waterproof ways to call for help.
In over a third of the 12 powered boating preventable drowning fatalities in 2019 lifejackets were either not available, or not worn correctly.
“It’s also critical that whatever the water based activity that people check the weather forecast” says Mills. “Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.”
Rock fishers are also reminded to think about safety, wear lifejackets, assess the conditions and not take unnecessary risks. There were 12 land based fishing fatalities in 2019.
“Sadly we had our first drowning of lockdown this week. Our waters are cold and especially so as we head into winter. If there is even a remote possibility you could end up in the water ensure you know water survival skills, wear a lifejacket as well as clothing that gives you thermal protection,” says Jonty Mills.
Scuba divers and Free divers will also be looking forward to an opportunity to get back into the water. They should also carry out equipment checks, assess the conditions and stay within their limits. There were 11 underwater fatalities in 2019.
“Always dive with a buddy and follow correct protocols such as employing a one-up one-down system,” says Mills.
Whatever the water based activity WSNZ needs everybody to remember the water safety code:
• Be prepared
• Watch out for yourself and others
• Be aware of the dangers
• Know your limits
Surf Life Saving New Zealand lifeguards are no longer on patrol, so beaches with big swells, strong currents and rips should be avoided. If you see someone in trouble in the water please dial 111 and ask for the Police.
‘We know there will be a lot of people excited about getting back out onto and into the water. While welcoming and inviting it can be unpredictable and unforgiving. People need to respect the water and make wise decisions” says WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills