Thousands of Kiwis around the country are sporting much safer lifejackets thanks to a Coastguard water safety campaign.
The annual Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade campaign wrapped up recently and saw 3,462 old, damaged or obsolete lifejackets traded in over the peak summer holiday period for discounted modern fit-forpurpose Hutchwilco lifejackets. There were almost 500 more lifejackets traded in this summer compared to last year’s campaign.
The campaign van was on the road for nine weeks and stopped at 61 different locations around the country. Families brought their old lifejackets to the van and purchased new lifejackets at discounted prices. As well as selling lifejackets, the Old4New crew distributed 1,603 safety items, such as crotch straps, which prevents a lifejacket from slipping up over your head when in the water, and provided advice on best boating practice and safety tips.
Old4New spokesperson, Sue Tucker, said the van has become a hub for people wanting to find out more about water safety.
Many of the lifejackets handed in were unusable and downright dangerous, and every year there is always one that should be in a museum. This year it was an oilskin lifejacket surrendered in Greymouth, which was approximately 75 years old and may have been used during World War II.
Coastguard New Zealand CEO Patrick Holmes said the campaign has grown in popularity since starting five years ago. Holmes said the younger generation can influence behaviour change when it comes to lifejackets.
“Often you see all the young people on a boat wearing lifejackets but not the parents,” Holmes said. “But everyone on board needs to wear one and kids often pester older family members to put one on.” “Lifejackets that are over 10 years old should be replaced even if they look okay to the eye. Seawater, sun and general wear and tear impact how effective they are,” he said.
Since the campaign started five years ago, over 10,000 old lifejackets have been traded in and taken out of circulation. The campaign is made possible thanks to generous funding from Maritime New Zealand and support from Hutchwilco, The Giltrap Group, Boating & Outdoors, The Southern Trust and The Four Winds Foundation.
24 March 2019