We Are Thoughtless When it Come to Water Safety and Boats
The tragic drowning of a father and daughter at Lake Tarawera early in December would have touched the hearts of most New Zealand families as we approach the holiday season. The contrasting emotions of an ideal family scene- a father and daughter enjoying a kayaking experience together- and then the horrific outcome of the venture.
I imagine that many people may initially have been judgemental and quick with the “Why didn’t ..?’ questions. And I also imagine there were a large number of people , who like me, were jolted into recalling incidents where they had placed themselves and others at risk by not following the pearls of water safety wisdom that we bestow on those we consider in greater need of our knowledge.
What the Lake Tarawera tragedy did for me was turn the foundations of the pedestal from which I launch the promotion of water safety routines, into pulpy paper. I shocked myself by realising, 18 months after the event, that as a very weak swimmer, I had spent 9 hours in reasonable swells, in a small boat watching whales at a very close range, without a life jacket. With two of the wonders of nature, each 15 metres long playing within arm’s reach of the boat I thought I was in heaven. In hindsight I was a bit closer to that possible destination than I realised –probably only a tail slap or a gentle nudge away. But what was most amazing was that I didn’t even realise the potential danger or that we were all without life jackets- the very essence of our teaching - until 18 months later. We were thoughtless about water safety- not a single thought about it crossed my mind during that extraordinary experience.
The fact is clear – we are simply thoughtless when it comes to water safety and boats. By that I mean as we race to launch our boats into the water we do not stop to recall, for even a single minute, the water safety checklist. Yes, we all know what we should do, but those facts are not traversing the forefront of our knowledge base. We need to dredge up our prior learnings about water safety from the depths of our long term memory and store them ready for quick access as we hit the high waves.
During recent months a large number of local schools have attended water safety lessons at Northern Arena. As parents it is our responsibility to reinforce this learning and keep the water safety messages fresh in the minds of our children. Pin the Northern Arena Water Safety Checklist for Boating on your fridge and ask your children to read and recite it regularly- but especially before going out in the boat.
Northern Arena Water Safety Checklist for Boating
Note: 55% of boating fatalities in 2012 had life jackets carried but not worn
Print out and pin the checklist to the fridge here
- Is everyone wearing a life jacket?
- Do the life jackets fit properly?
- Do we have
a) a cell phone that is fully charged in a sealed plastic bag?
- Have we notified someone of our plans, destinations and expected time of return?