Outdoor Safety

Boating Safety

Lifejackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on any recreational vessel. And in many situations you and your passengers are required by law to wear one. Penalties apply, and Maritime Safety Victoria and the Water Police will be cracking down this summer.

We all enjoy a great day out on the water and in Victoria boat- ing is massive with more than 170,000 registered boats, but with boating comes some risks.

No one ever expects that it will happen to them but occasionally out on the water things can go wrong.

That’s when you’ll need one of these.

This is a lifejacket and as the name suggests it can save your life.

It’s a fact that’s backed up by some pretty grim statistics.

In 2013 ten people lost their lives while boating in Victorian waters and none of them were wearing lifejackets at the time.

Maritime Safety Victoria is leading the push to turn those numbers around by encouraging boaters to know and understand the lifejacket regulations.

There are a range of circumstances where boaters are required to wear lifejackets while boating on Victoria’s waterways.

The main category is for power vessels that are less than 4.8 m. In that circumstance, all people on board must wear a lifejacket while the vessel is underway.

A vessel is considered to be underway unless anchored or tied up to the shore.

A drifting boat is definitely under- way and lifejackets need to be on. This rule also applies to kayaks and canoes, off the beach yachts plus high performance PWCs. The simple reason being that you are more likely to end up in the water while operating a craft like this.

There is also a one size fits all rule that applies kids.

With kids, all children under 10 need to be wearing a lifejacket.

My suggestion is that you actually take the kids into a shop and get them properly fitted. They have a crotch strap so that if they do fall in, the jacket isn’t going to go over their head

Now, even if your boat is bigger than 4.8 m, here in Victoria, there are times when you will still need to wear your lifejacket by law.

Times of heightened risk, Andrew, and they could include times when you are crossing a bar way, times when there are weather warnings in place, times of reduced visibility and also times when you are operating your vessel by yourself.

Operating alone is most certainly a heightened risk.

It’s not only law but a very good idea to be wearing your lifejacket so if you get separated from your vessel you’ve got a much better chance of survival.

The rule of heightened risk applies to powered vessels up to 12 metres in length as well as yachts.

It means that you need to be wearing your lifejacket if you are alone onboard the vessel, in the dark or reduced visibility, if a severe weather warning has been issued and whenever crossing an ocean bar or in a designated hazardous area.

By law these are the times when your life jackets is required to be worn but as more and more Victorian boaters are discovering, wearing a lifejacket makes good sense every time you head out on the water.

We know now that the types of lifejackets that are available are comfortable, you’re unencumbered, they are relatively cheap in the picture of fishing, I’d be wearing one all the time.

And like seatbelts, you know, no one wanted to wear a seat belt when they were first introduced.

But now a lot of guys I know who’ve been fishing for many years but only in the last 5 or 10 years have been wearing jackets, they are comfortable in them now, they’re used to them, they’re happy to wear them.

So remember wear your life- jacket or others wear the consequences.

For more information visit: wearalifejacket.vic.gov.au

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