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Weather a factor in 40% of fatalities

29 October 2004

Weather a factor in 40% of fatalities

The Maritime Safety Authority says failure to check and act on marine weather forecasts is a key cause of more than 40 percent of recreational boating fatalities. It is also a significant cause in injury and non-injury accidents.

Fifty-three of the 127 people who died from January 1994 to May 2002 may have saved their own and other’s lives if they’d checked and acted on the marine forecast before going out.

In response, the MSA is launching a campaign encouraging people to get to know the marine weather forecast, understand what it means, and not to go out if they have any doubts.

Director of Maritime Safety Russell Kilvington says weather-related accidents skyrocket after Labour weekend as people are itching to get out on the water after a winter indoors.

“People talk about ‘getting caught out by the weather’, but rarely is that strictly accurate. And it’s not rocket science to check the marine forecast. “One tragedy where failure to check and act on the marine forecast claimed a life, happened in February when two men decided to go fishing from canoes near Waitangi. The wind was blowing very hard offshore and they were blown further out to sea. Fortunately one man managed to swim ashore but his mate was swept further out and drowned; if they’d checked the weather, they probably wouldn’t have gone.

“Boating trips are often planned in advance, and when the day comes people are often determined to go out even if the weather is a bit dodgy. But it’s not worth the risk.

“It’s one critical part of the safety equation. Check the weather, wear a life jacket, and carry communications equipment on you such as your mobile in a sealed plastic bag or a waterproof VHF radio,” he said.

ENDS


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