Don’t be casualty this winter

With as many Kiwi boaties dying in winter as in summer, Maritime NZ is urging all those headed out on the water to be prepared for the changing conditions winter can bring. Whether you are kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, fishing or yachting, boating during winter brings additional challenges, such as unpredictable weather and colder conditions.

“It’s tragic that in winter we still see a similar number of recreational boating fatalities as in summer, when many more people are on the water,” says Baz Kirk, Maritime New Zealand’s Manager Sector Engagement and Collaboration. “In 2020, there were four fatalities in the June-August (winter) period compared to five in the December- February (summer) period. And in 2019, there were five fatalities in the winter period and four in the summer period.

“Boating during the winter does require you to take some additional steps to stay safe – but by planning ahead and knowing what you’re facing, you’ll be able to enjoy your time on the water,” he says.

“Over summer 2021, five people perished on our waters and we don’t want to see that same number over winter.”

In winter, New Zealand’s seas, lakes and rivers are very cold. Cold water immersion can kill in as little as 30-40 minutes, especially in New Zealand’s alpine lakes. People in, on or around cold water need to follow the cold water immersion guidelines, known as the 1-10-1 guide:

  • 1 minute to control your breathing – float, don’t panic and try not to hyperventilate
  • 10 minutes to self-rescue, or plan your course of action
  • 1 hour to incapacitation by hypothermia – can you make the safe distance you need by then? If not, stay where you are.
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