Crackdown on water activities

EDITORIAL: Safe is best on the water

BOATING enthusiasts throughout NSW will come under close scrutiny from Roads and Maritime Services officers with particular emphasis on towing activities.

Operation Tow Safe began on Saturday and six RMS officers will be busy at Lake Hume, Lake Mulwala and along the Murray River down to Mildura until Sunday.

It has been timed to run during the summer holiday period.

The acting senior boating safety officer with the RMS at Albury, Tim Peverell, patrolled the Murray River yesterday.

“Water-skiing, wakeboarding and towing recreational inflatables increase in popularity each summer, so we need to make sure people are following the law and enjoying themselves responsibly,” a senior RMS spokesman said.

“We’ll be focusing on making sure people are using the right lifejackets, both in the boat and being towed, and that the right safety equipment is on board.

“RMS safety officers will randomly inspect boating licences and remind users of towing laws.

“We’ll have a zero tolerance approach when it comes to lifejacket laws.”

RMS statistics show there have been 56 reported towing-related incidents with eight deaths in the past five years.

The spokesman said the campaign is about bringing those figures down and helping people enjoy the water safely.

He said boaters are reminded water levels change all the time and it is the responsibility of the boat skipper to ensure conditions are safe.

“It’s crucial for people who want to carry out towing activities such as water-skiing and wakeboarding to ensure water levels are safe to do so,” the spokesman said.

“If you’re being towed, the skipper of the boat or just watching, you should know all the hand signals and have a clear understanding of what they mean before any towing starts.

“Operation Tow Safe also focuses on the dangers of petrol engines on board.

“To prevent vessel fires, boaters should check for any leaks or fuel spills once refueled and ensure there is plenty of ventilation before restarting the engine.

“Boaters are advised to carry a complete first aid kit aboard, appropriate to the size of the boat.”

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