Check your lifejackets
Lifejackets with kapok filling or cotton straps are unsafe and could fail when used. Find out more about old lifejackets.
The right lifejacket will suit your boating activities and crew
When choosing a lifejacket, consider:
- the type of recreational activities you do on water
- the distance you plan to travel away from shore
- the weather and sea conditions you will encounter
- the local bylaws that may apply to your region
- the sizes available for children
What type do you need?
Did you know?
Most accidents occur suddenly with no warning
There may be no time to grab a lifejacket unless it is close at hand, and it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put on a lifejacket once you are in the water.
Crotch straps are recommended in situations other than very calm water
Even when tightly secured, lifejackets have a tendency to ride up on the wearer if there is any wave action. Crotch straps are mandatory for all child-sized lifejackets and in some yacht racing situations.
Most drownings in boating accidents involve craft under 6 metres. Everyone on board boats under 6 metres should wear a lifejacket, unless the skipper has assessed this is not necessary, due to the low risk at the time.
We recommend that non-swimmers and children wear lifejackets at all times.
A legal requirement for boaties
As a skipper, you must carry a correctly sized lifejacket for each person on board.
This is a legal requirement that applies to all boats, including tenders and larger craft.
Maritime rules provide that it is the skipper’s legal responsibility to ensure that lifejackets are worn in situations of heightened risk, such as when crossing a bar, in rough water, during an emergency, and by non-swimmers.
If they are not worn, lifejackets must be stored so that they are immediately available in case of an emergency.
Regional council bylaws
Some bylaws go further than maritime rules, making the wearing of lifejackets compulsory for all on board small craft.
Check your local regional council bylaws for the requirements that apply in the waters in your part of New Zealand.