Lifejackets and preparation key for paddle safety


KAYAKERS and paddle boarders across Port Stephens and the Myall Coast are being urged to wear a lifejacket and monitor conditions to ensure a day on the water doesn’t end in tragedy.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said two fatalities over the October long weekend are a tragic reminder that conditions on the water can change quickly.

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“Paddlers and boaters need to plan their trip and wear a lifejacket.

“Lifejackets help to manage cold shock, conserve energy and can give a person more time to get back into their vessel or wait for assistance to arrive,” Mr Hutchings said.

“It’s also crucial to monitor weather conditions closely. Weather conditions were a likely factor in more than 1 in 5 (22%) fatal boating incidents in the 10 years to June 2020.

“The easiest thing to remember is if in doubt, don’t go out.”

NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officer Paul Hearfield said over the past three months strong westerly winds have created significant waves in some coastal areas, attracting kayakers, paddle boarders and outriggers keen to ride the swell.

“As we move into the summer months southerly changes will be more common at the end of a hot day and can present with little or no warning,” Mr Hearfield said.

“Boaters need to know the weather can change in the blink of an eye.

“Two kayakers capsized in Port Stephens in July when conditions deteriorated rapidly.

“One was taken to hospital with severe hypothermia, the other suffered mild hypothermia.

“That incident also reinforced the need to carry a beacon, EPIRB or PLB – which was used by one of the capsized kayakers to raise the alarm.

“If you capsize while fatigued, you might not get back onto your craft, increasing your chances of ending up in hospital – or worse.

“All water users need to heed the warning, no matter how confident or experienced they are – be bright, be seen, know the conditions and always wear a lifejacket.”

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