Your View: Lifejacket laws

THE revised lifejackets laws (YPCT 5-12-17) fail to take into account specific groups who should be exempted.

There were 168 drownings in the past 10 years, 134 swimmers and 34 boating. Why has it not been made compulsory for swimmers to wear buoyancy aids whilst in the water?

When was the last time a windsurfer, scuba diver, surfer or spearfisherman drowned? Not in the past 10 years, at least.

No doubt the excellent flotation properties and thermal protection of their full-length wetsuits play a big factor.

Two boating incidents illustrate this. Back in 1973, a boat with four people on board sank in rough seas off Port Victoria. All were wearing lifejackets. None survived. Hypothermia was the killer, not drowning.

Several years ago, a boat sank off Cape Coutts, Kangaroos Island, during a spearfishing expedition. No one on board was wearing a lifejacket, but all reached shore or safety. The big difference was all the spearfishermen were highly experienced and had good equipment available.  A full-length diver’s two-piece wetsuit needs more than seven kilograms of lead to counteract its buoyancy. Drop their belt and one will float like a cork, plus will still have his/her mask, snorkel, fins, and spear gun. All contribute to survivability.

No one argues with children wearing lifejackets while aboard a boat, but teenagers diving is a completely different ball game. The boat size should be reduced from 4.8m (16 feet) to 4.5 (15ft). A full-length two-piece diver’s wetsuit should be deemed a lifejacket, and the legislation changed. Most divers suit up before launching their boat, and unsuit back on shore. It is very inconvenient to suit up in a boat, and can give rise to all sorts of issues.

Kym Bray, Port Victoria

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