Wednesday, 16 December 2020 - 6:26pm |
National News

Summer water safety

4 min read

News article photos, audio and videos (2 items)

Police Maritime vessels
Lady Elizabeth IV

Get on board with our water safety messaging

“If you are going to the river, lake or beach these holidays you need to take time to check out our safety messages. Water safety is so important and some simple common sense checks can prevent needless tragedies,” says Officer in Charge of the Maritime Unit Wellington, Senior Sergeant Dave Houston.

Maritime New Zealand says, "with around 20 recreational boating fatalities occurring on average every year, and tragically 14 already this year, it's more important than ever that people are prepared before going out on the water.

“No matter what type of craft you're using, you should always follow the Boating Safety Code,” says Maritime's Baz Kirk.

“Everyone on the water needs a plan for how they are going to stay safe in case things go wrong. It’s vital you prep your craft and equipment, check your gear to make sure it’s safe and fit for purpose and know your responsibilities for keeping yourself and others safe.”

Key tips for boating safely:

  • Always wear a life jacket when boating and jet skiing or using any other craft on the water
  • Have two forms of waterproof communication on board, such as mobile phone or marine radio
  • Make sure your equipment is safe and working
  • Check the marine weather forecast
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Know the rules for the area you’re in
  • Be familiar with navigational hazards in your area

Senior Sergeant Houston agrees “We also want to remind all boaties to be careful crossing the bar in any conditions at sea. They can become unstuck while crossing the bar, tipping them out into the water. Some get into trouble at low tide and others at high tide. Regardless of the time of the year, the weather can change in an instant and make crossing difficult at high or low tide,” he says. Because bar crossings can be dangerous, it's important to have the right local knowledge and skills before going out." 

Set the bar high on safety this summer:

  • Before leaving the harbour, a skipper must assess the conditions on the bar
  • Study the nature of the seas to find the best route to take. The best time to cross a bar is at high water. Avoid crossing when the tide is going out
  • Wait until the conditions are suitable before you cross. Alternatively, choose a less dangerous place if possible
  • Secure all movable objects in the boat and ensure that the weight, including your passenger load, is low. Check that your engine and steering are performing correctly. Warm up the motor and secure all hatches
  • Make sure you and all your passengers are wearing life jackets. It is the skipper’s legal responsibility to ensure that lifejackets are worn in situations of heightened risk, such as when crossing a bar
  • Leave trip intentions and plans with someone on shore
  • Skippers must be aware that a rapid change in conditions might prevent a safe return to harbour
  • Those vessels leaving for longer trips should ensure they have adequate reserve fuel and provisions to enable the vessel to remain at sea and/or divert to another port should the adverse conditions continue
  • Ensure that your vessel has sufficient stability
  • Put in a call on your VHF radio to the local Coastguard or Maritime Radio immediately before and after crossing the bar.
  • If in doubt, don’t go out

All vessels must be in a stable condition – check out the factors that determine stability

  • the free surface effect of liquids and loose fish
  • additional weights on deck, including portable ice bins and fuel containers
  • the loss of stability that occurs if deck is enclosed or bins fill with water
  • modifications to a vessel may be detrimental to its stability
  • the movements of weights within a vessel including people

Swimming? Keep an eye on your kids and others

Rivers are changeable and unpredictable and can contain hidden dangers. Check for hidden objects in swimming holes, such as logs. Water can change in depth each summer and currents can move objects underwater, so please look before you leap. Water Safety New Zealand spokesperson, Ben Christie says “More New Zealanders have drowned in rivers than at beaches since records began. They are not patrolled and the water can be deceptively calm. Never go in alone and get local knowledge about the risks. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their safety this summer and remember the Water Safety Code: Be prepared, look out for yourself and each other, be aware of the dangers and know your limits." If you are going swimming in or near a dam, it’s important to note that water levels and flows can change significantly throughout the day and massive flows may be released at any time. River banks can become unstable during flood and after heavy rain, so know your area well – including staying well clear of a river in flood.  If swimming at the beach, swim between the flags, they are there to keep you safe and watch out for rips in the water,” he says.


Issued by Police Media Centre

Check these important links below for more information on a variety of water safety:



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Police Maritime vessels
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