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Record numbers of old lifejackets replaced over summer


Record numbers of old lifejackets replaced over summer

Thousands of unsafe lifejackets have been replaced by brand new lifejackets this summer thanks to a Coastguard water safety campaign, with more boaties than ever trading in their old or damaged lifejackets.

Over the course of the ten-week Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade, over 3,000 old, damaged or obsolete lifejackets were traded in by boaties from 55 communities, from the Far North to the Deep South who came to meet the Old4New van as it traveled the country. The campaign encouraged boaties to trade in their old lifejackets for great discounts on modern, new Hutchwilco lifejackets, in an effort to get old and worn lifejackets out of the community.

Many of the lifejackets that were traded in were unusable to the point of being dangerous. "A number of the old lifejackets were filled with Kapok that had become water-laden," said Old4New Community Ambassador Sue Tucker. "Kapok lifejackets used to be common sight decades ago, but now those lifejackets would be more of a hindrance than a help in an emergency situation."

"With drowning being one of the leading causes of preventable death in NZ, it’s great to get these old lifejackets out of boats, and replaced with new, modern ones," Sue said.

And while the majority of the traded-in lifejackets had seen better days, some had seen better decades completely – two of the traded-in lifejackets were over 60 years old, and were still being used by the elderly owners as fit-for-purpose.

"Coastguard’s message about lifejackets is simple – take them and wear them," says Coastguard New Zealand CEO Patrick Holmes. "But a lifejacket is no good to anyone if it’s stowed away, and even less so if it’s old or in a poor condition. Wearing a good quality, fit-for-purpose lifejacket has never ruined a day out on the water."

As well as trading lifejackets, the Old4New team provided thousands of people with safe boating advice, lifejacket care and helped boaties select the best lifejacket for their type of boating.

"Being safe on the water is everyone’s responsibility," says Patrick. "The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade provides the opportunity for people to be responsible and take the safety of themselves and their loved ones seriously, we’re incredibly proud of the difference this campaign is making in our communities."

Alongside significant funding from Maritime New Zealand and support from the Southern Trust, the Old4New campaign was made possible by lifejacket manufacturer Hutchwilco and kiwi vehicle distributor Giltrap Group – both proudly New Zealand-owned companies supporting boating safety. In addition, retailer Boating & Outdoors offered the trade-ins at their stores nationwide, from Northland to Southland, further supporting the campaign.

Now in its fourth year, the Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade has seen over 10,000 lifejackets traded-in since 2014. "In the four years of the campaign, hundreds of communities nationwide have been provided with an easy and accessible way to ensure boaties have the correct number of fit-for-purpose lifejackets on their boat," said Patrick.

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