Community News

Don’t become a summer boating statistic: wear a lifejacket

Marine Rescue NSW is again appealing to boaters to always wear lifejackets on the water, following the release of new figures showing a spike in summer drownings. The Royal Life Saving Society reports that between 1 December and 18 January, 59 people drowned in Australian waters – an increase of 16 per cent on the same period in 2014/15. MRNSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said wearing a lifejacket was the simplest safety measure a boater could take to help save their life in an emergency. “Skippers should always make sure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket,” he said. “Many boaters will be looking forward to heading out on the water on Australia Day. We want them all to go home to their families safely at the end of the day, not end the summer as another drowning statistic.” The Royal Life Saving Society reported that inland waterways claimed the largest number of lives over the summer period, with 20 (34%) drowning deaths, compared to 18 (31%) at beaches and 12 (20%) in ocean/harbour locations. Men made up four in five deaths, reflecting longer-term trends showing men drown at four times the rate of women. This follows the release of Transport for NSW’s Boating incidents in New South Wales – Statistical Statement 2014-15 earlier this month, showing 16 people were killed and 82 seriously injured on NSW waterways. The data revealed male boaters made up all the boating fatalities in NSW in 2014/15 and small craft such as tinnies, which are more susceptible to capsizing, were involved in about two-thirds of boating deaths. Bad weather was another major factor in boating deaths, contributing to more than 40 per cent of all recreational boating fatalities in 2014-15. “It’s also essential that skippers always check the weather conditions before they leave and also while they are out on the water,” Deputy Commissioner Storey said. “Conditions can change rapidly. Marine Rescue NSW units broadcast regular weather updates over marine radio. You can also check conditions on the MarineRescue mobile app or call or radio your nearest MRNSW unit.” “Most important,” he said, “is the simple step of Logging On and Logging Off with your local Marine Rescue radio base so someone responsible knows you’re on the water, Use your marine radio or the MarineRescue App for smartphones.”