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Tragedy highlights the need to wear and maintain lifejackets

Drowning tragedy highlights the need to wear and maintain lifejackets

The double drowning of two men in a boat off Kaikoura in December has reinforced the need for people going out on the water to not only wear lifejackets, but to ensure they are properly maintained.

Auguste Robin Munro Reinke, 79, and Ronald Clarence Monk, 75, drowned after their boat capsized while they were checking crayfish pots on 3 December 2013.

The alarm was not raised until their partially submerged 4.8 metre boat was found drifting close to shore.

The Coroner’s report states that Mr Reinke was not wearing a lifejacket at the time, while Mr Monk’s automatic inflatable lifejacket, designed to inflate when submerged, had not inflated.

Evidence indicated that it had previously been activated through immersion in water and then deflated and re-packed without being serviced. The lifejacket’s gas canister, which inflates the lifejacket, was empty. The lifejacket could have been inflated by manually blowing in the mouthpiece provided, but this had not been done.

“Inflatable lifejackets are ideal for people on boats because they allow those wearing them to move freely, but they must be maintained properly,” Maritime New Zealand Regional Compliance Manager/Maritime Officer Domonic Venz said.

“If a lifejacket has been inflated by the gas canister, the canister must be replaced as they do not retain gas for subsequent inflations. Inflatable lifejackets should be checked as part of your pre-boating safety checks every time you go out and serviced every year.”

“If people unexpectedly end up in the water and are not wearing a lifejacket, their chances of survival are reduced. There is often not enough time to locate and put on lifejackets, and even if they can be retrieved, it’s difficult to put them on once in the water.”

It is also important that people going out on the water can call for help if something goes wrong, Mr Venz said.

“We recommend boaties carry two waterproof means of emergency communications that will work when wet. In this case, there was no call for help and no alarm raised – with tragic results.”


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