10,000 waterproof cellphone bags – free to boaties!

“It won’t work wet” is the message behind 10,000 waterproof cellphone bags being given out to boaties this summer.

The Safer Boating Forum will start giving away free waterproof cellphone bags to boaties during Safer Boating Week, October 16-23, and it will continue over summer. Each bag will also include a new safer boating mini-guide.

“Take two ways to call for help, is one of our key messages to people going out on the water,” Maritime New Zealand Education and Communications Manager, Pania Shingleton said.

“We know that more and more recreational boaties take cellphones with them. If you are going to have a cellphone as one of your two ways of calling for help, then it has to be kept safe and waterproof,” Ms Shingleton said.

Coastguard Boating Education will be distributing the bags and mini-guides to people completing boat safety courses, and other members of the Forum will be distributing bags at boat ramps and water safety events.

Other communication options boaties can use to call for help include distress beacons (PLBs, personal locator beacons), VHF radio (channel 16), and flares.
The second annual Safer Boating Week is the week before Labour Day weekend, the traditional start of the recreational boating season. The aim is to encourage boaties to take simple steps before getting boats on the water.

“Finding out on the water that there is something wrong with your boat or equipment, or that you do not know important safety rules, is too late and is dangerous,” Ms Shingleton said. “Last year 27 people died in recreational boating accidents, and another 16 have died this year. Prep, check, know before you take your boat out.”

  • Prep your boat – service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery and just generally give the boat a good onceover.
  • Check your gear – make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough. Service any inflatable lifejackets and ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment.
  • Know the rules – ensure you know the “rules of the road” on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area.

Safer Boating Week will include a series of fun and serious events including a wharf jump, a helicopter rescue exercise, TV and radio advertising, competitions, a media visit to the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, boat ramp visits and much more.

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