What doesn't kill you makes you a better boatie
by Mark Rothfield on 3 Feb 2012
Two boys went into the water one Australia Day many years ago and only one came out. The other drowned, as did a rescuer.
Wearing life jackets should be a boating basic .. ©
An elderly relative of mine was the survivor. He subsequently got married and had five children who duly delivered eight grandchildren … the ripple effect.
Every Australia Day since then, we take stock of water safety when out on the boat. The kids wear lifejackets, as do the adults. And you know what – it doesn’t kill you.
A recent study found that if lifejacket usage increased to 50 per cent, at least three lives would be saved nationally each year, to which the ripple effect can be applied.
Boating authorities harp on about safety like a nagging aunt but the problem’s not the message … it’s deaf ears and a colour blind media.....
The industry needs to shoulder some burden too. Sure boats over 5 metres don't require boaters to wear life jackets but close up images don't make boat sizes clear and there is no good reason not to ensure those images re-inforce the safety message.
Thankfully as you can see in the image above, many boaters are wearing likejackets now as part of a routine, when they are not required to do so by law.
Shark attacks cause an outcry but a propeller can kill and maim as surely as a Great White, and the odds are greater – since late 2001 on NSW waters there have been seven fatalities and 69 permanent injuries from propeller strikes, and an average of seven injuries a year.
Safety gear is about as popular as a prostate examination but both save lives.
A Sydney kayaker rescued by helicopter this month was wearing a lifejacket and had activated a personal EPIRB. A week earlier, two adults and two children were saved after their boat caught fire and sank off Sydney Heads, leaving them clinging to an icebox.
Again, an EPIRB saved them, which is why they’re mandatory equipment for anyone heading more than two nautical miles offshore.
Australia Day has passed but really you should think about the message 366 days this year, especially for young ones.