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Friday, December 12, 2008

Lifejacket is for wearing!

This news from stuff.co.nz may not get a whole lot of general interests, but I think it should be an important news for everyone to contemplate. The headline of the article is "Boat death renew call on lifejacket law." I guess that's for New Zealand, I think it should be universal!

Here's the story that seems to have escaped the attention of news reports when it happened:

Raymond Kitt and Paul Draper went out in a boat carrying four lifejackets but neither man wore one.

Now the death of Mr Kitt, who drowned when the boat was flipped by a rogue wave, has renewed calls for the wearing of lifejackets at sea to be mandatory.

On April 13, the men launched a five-metre aluminium boat in rough seas off Kairakau Beach, near Elsthorpe in Central Hawke's Bay, to haul in fishing nets.

Under maritime law, lifejackets must be stored on boats and must be worn at times of heightened risk, such as in poor weather or when crossing a rivermouth, but need not be worn at other times.

Hawke's Bay coroner Chris Devonport, who released his findings yesterday, said Mr Kitt's death reinforced the need for lifejackets to be worn whenever there was the possibility of boats being swamped by waves.

The men saw the wave coming; it curled, striking the front of the boat and flipping it, Mr Draper told police.

The men were flung into the water and Mr Draper swam to a lifejacket and put it on. Knocked by waves and pulled by the strong current, the pair panicked before Mr Draper grabbed his mate and dragged him toward the shore.

"I got to my feet and started to pull Raymond up further on the rocks. I could see he was looking a bit blue and I feared the worst."

I have always have the opinion that lifejacket should be worn by everyone in the boat and even on the beach. Here's a very good comment I thought it's very relevant and on target:
Maritime New Zealand manager of recreational boating Jim Lott said: "If people treated lifejackets in a boat like they do seatbelts in cars, many lives would be saved."
Granted that lifejacklet is by no means the same as seatbelt, but it's all for save lives. Isn't it time for some smart people to invent light, floatable material to make boat and beach wears that's not as clumsy as the lifejacket is now? It could be a bussiness venture -- making lightweight wearable lifejacket. Common, go for it!

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