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Lifejackets saving lives early into new year

10 January 2014

And now for the good news – lifejackets save lives

Ten days into 2014 and already lifejackets have helped save the lives of at least 11 people.

• two were rescued after their 5m boat capsized crossing the Raglan bar (2 January)

• three were rescued after their boat capsized off Otago Peninsula (5 January)

• two teenagers wearing lifejackets were rescued after clinging to their upturned boat on Lake Taupo and calling for help using a cellphone (8 January)

• four people wearing lifejackets abandoned their boat after it caught fire and began sinking near Pauanui on the Coromandel Peninsula (8 January).

Tragically, a 49-year-old fisherman who was not wearing lifejacket when he fell from a boat in Wellington harbour on 5 January is now presumed drowned.

Last year 19 people died as a result of recreational boating accidents, compared to 14 in 2012, with a lack of lifejackets or ill-fitting lifejackets a likely factor in 13 deaths.

But last year also saw some good news stories as lifejackets saved lives.

In January, four people – wearing lifejackets – were rescued after their boat sank off the mouth of the Taieri River in Otago.

Four people – wearing lifejackets – were found clinging to their upturned boat and rescued after it sank east of Tauranga Bay on 27 October.

Two people – wearing lifejackets – spent 20 minutes in the water after their boat flipped on the Maketu bar in the Bay of Plenty in November.

“Lifejackets save lives – it’s that simple,” Maritime New Zealand deputy director Lindsay Sturt said. “But lifejackets can’t call for help and that’s why we recommend boaties also carry at least two means of communications that will work when wet. This could include an emergency distress beacon, waterproof VHF radio or distress flares.

“People often rely on cellphones but coverage can be limited and they should always be carried in a waterproof bag.”

Preparation can also go a long way towards preventing trouble occurring.

“Skippers should ensure their boats are seaworthy and check the weather forecast and water conditions before they head out. Alcohol should also be avoided – it slows reaction times and reduces survival time in you end up in the water.”

ENDS

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