Collaborative effort to promote the wearing of lifejackets formed

Getting kids to wear a lifejacket, without question, is a real trick.
In a global initiative, leading marine safety organisations from around the globe have formed a collaborative effort to promote the wearing of lifejackets when boating.

Canadian Safe Boating Council Chair Jean Murray said the centrepiece of the initiative is a set of principles to promote the wearing of lifejackets.

'The International Lifejacket Wear Principles were finalised at the Marine13 boating conference, recently held in Sydney,' Ms Murray said.

'At this conference, leading maritime safety organisations from Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom were the first to become advocates for this new set of principles.

'The launch of the website lifejacketwear.com means other boating organisations can join this effort and become Safety Partners, and advocates of these life-saving principles.

'Around the world there is a common, tragic theme in boating fatalities, the majority of lives lost involve a person who did not wear a lifejacket in a small boat.

'The greatest challenge facing the international recreational boating community is encouraging people to make a habit of putting on a lifejacket before they go boating.

'Endorsing the principles does not create any obligations, but it will provide a powerful tool for future work and sets a benchmark for boating safety promotion around the world.

'The collaboration and support so far for the Principles has been extremely encouraging and I am confident this safety initiative will gain momentum and help make a difference by supporting safe, responsible and enjoyable boating,' she said.

Ms Murray said the foundation blocks for the Principles were laid at the Canadian Safe Boating Council boating safety symposium at Lake Muskoka, Canada, in 2012.

The Principles recognise the need for common language and this includes using the word 'lifejacket' as a generic term covering all nationally approved personal lifesaving appliances/ devices; and the fact that different jurisdictions, largely depending on marine conditions, define small craft variously as under 4.8m, under 16ft, under 6m or under 7m, and including tenders.

Organisations which are signatories to the International Lifejacket Wear Principles agree to the following:

- We recognise the fundamental role the wearing of lifejackets plays in the safeguarding of life for water users;
- We endeavour to ensure that any publication including brochures, DVD, video, websites, and the like will feature all people wearing contemporary style lifejackets when in an outside area of a small craft that is underway;
- We recommend to the recreational boating industry that its publications similarly feature all people shown wearing lifejackets when in an outside area of a small craft that is underway;
- We require on-water education and compliance staff to wear lifejackets whenever they are on the water;
- We use the term 'lifejacket' in public information and education; and
- We encourage respective boating safety networks to become „safety partners? by supporting the above principles.

The foundation signatories to the Principles were:

Australian Recreational Boating Safety Committee;
Canadian Safe Boating Council;
Prevention at Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (France);
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (UK); and
Maritime New Zealand.

'News of this lifejacket initiative is spreading fast and the most recent signatory as a safety partner to the Principles is the United States National Safe Boating Council,' Ms Murray said.

The Australian Recreational Boating Safety Committee is managing the website through its member jurisdiction Transport for NSW. The site is at www.lifejacketwear.com