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Freedom on the water comes with responsibilities

This summer we are expecting it to be busier than ever on our waterways.

Joining our ever increasing number of registered power boats is a growing group of paddlers.

Kayaking is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and a weekend trip to any popular beach along our coastline shows it has caught on here too.

Kayakers are discovering the freedom and enjoyment of taking to the water on a self-propelled craft.

While it’s great to see many more people spending time along our rivers and on the sea, it does mean some more time must be spent on water safety.

The freedom that is so enjoyable on the water can only be enjoyed with some responsibilities.

Whether you’re a kayaker or skippering a powered boat you must take necessary steps to ensure your safety and the safety of the people around you.

A couple of tragic incidents this year have shown how quickly the water can turn from a place of pleasure to peril.

There are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce this risk dramatically.

Plan your route and make sure you have the capabilities to handle those types of water.

Check the weather for that day using the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s site to make sure you have the most up to date info.

Detailed forecasts are available for different zones along the coastline and weather warnings are given.

You must also prepare your craft, especially if you haven’t used it since last year.

Check the boat for any damage, including fuel lines and safety equipment – particularly those with expiry dates, such as flares or batteries in EPIRBs and torches. Don't forget to replace the fuel if you haven't been out since last season.

Make sure life jackets (Personal Flotation Devices or PFD) are serviced in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, particularly needed for inflatable models. Make sure you have the correct PFD type for the activity and size for those going aboard.

If you don’t have one, consider getting an EPIRB, even if you’re not going far. There are a number of cases where they have helped rescuers find people in need of assistance quickly.

Finally, before you set off make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back (we have some handy fridge magnets available to help you remember to do this).

Remember, taking these simple steps before you head onto the water will help ensure the trip is fun and safe for everyone.

Safe boating.

Trent Rusby
Director, Transport Safety Regulation