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Ask the question before you’re caught short

It’s difficult to know how you will react in a moment of life and death.

Everyone handles pressure differently in an emergency, however there is some common behaviour: decision making becomes irrational, the smallest of tasks difficult and time quickens until it screams by.

Those that meet these moments regularly train for them rigorously. The rest of us have all sat through demonstrations and drills of how to survive in a burning building, a crashed plane or an ocean rip.

But we often still approach potentially precarious situations with dangerous disregard.

Ask yourself, how many times have you prepared for an emergency before launching your boat? Do you take for granted that all your passengers know where the safety equipment is and how it works? Do you know what you would do if the vessel was suddenly swamped by a freak wave? If you were not wearing a PFD would you have time to dive under the upturned boat, find the life jackets, hand them out and make sure everyone’s fitted?

Sitting, reading this we all know the answer: no, there probably wouldn’t be enough time.

And are you prepared for the costs of this lack of time; the result if you aren’t able to securely strap a loved one into a personal flotation device before the boat sank? Of course not.

So my message in the lead up to the busiest boating weekend of the year – Easter – is simple: think now about how you would save yourself and your loved ones in an emergency.

To help prepare there are legislated requirements setting out the minimal safety gear that’s needed. What must be carried depends on the vessel size, but basically personal flotation devices (PFD), flares, EPIRBS, fire extinguishers, buckets and anchors all must be aboard.

And don’t just stow and forget your equipment. It must be checked and maintained. Before heading out count your passengers, fit them to life jackets and encourage them to wear them.

EPIRB registration and flares can expire so these must be checked and placed where they can be accessed if the vessel is overturned.

Over Easter we’ll be running radio adverts to remind you to check your safety gear and our Transport Safety Compliance Officers will be on your local radio station talking about the gear you need.

Of course, details are available online:
Details of safety gear needed

So use the time while you have it. You'll know if you’re prepared by asking a simple question: would I be able to save myself and my passengers if I needed to?

Brian Hemming
Director, Transport Safety Regulation
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure