New guidelines follow inflatable lifejacket concerns

Concerns that some inflatable lifejackets failed because they had not been serviced, and boaties were getting unclear information, have led to new, national guidelines for safer use of inflatable lifejackets.

The guidelines were developed by a nation-wide industry group representing manufacturers, importers, retailers, boating organisations, New Zealand Defence Force, local government and central government. It was convened by Maritime New Zealand.

Maritime New Zealand Deputy Director and Chair of the Safer Boating Forum*, Lindsay Sturt, said for the first time we now have nationally agreed, clear, consistent information about safely using inflatable lifejackets in New Zealand.

“The aim is to help save lives of recreational boaties by helping them choose the correct lifejackets, and, crucially, to know how and when to service them,” Mr Sturt said.

Previously, the only servicing advice for inflatable lifejackets was to take them to an approved agent. Most people do not seem to have done that.

The guidelines include advice that will help boaties decide what lifejackets to buy and use, and, for the first time, simple instructions for servicing that boaties can easily do themselves. They include information about:

  • pre-wear checks – what to do every time an inflatable lifejacket is worn
  • self-servicing – do these checks at least once a year
  • servicing by approved agents – do these as the manufacturer recommends.

The guidelines have been distributed to manufacturers, importers and retailers to include on packaging, swing tags, instructions, websites and other material intended for the public. They are also useful advice for staff working with the public.

Boating and government organisations will use them to help educate boaties.