People heading out onto the Waikato River or out of town to enjoy our region’s lakes and beaches, will be much safer thanks to the recent formation of the Waikato Community Lifejacket Hub in Hamilton.
It’s the first such hub to be launched in the region by Swimming Waikato thanks to funding from Maritime New Zealand and support from Drowning Prevention Auckland and Hamilton City Council.
In total 70 lifejackets will be available for the community’s use, located at the Gallagher Aquatics Centre, Hamilton. The life jackets come in a range of children’s and adults’ sizes and are available to be borrowed for a maximum of two weeks for a gold donation. The lifejackets are suitable for different water activities, including fishing, sailing, and water sports. The lifejackets are also easy to wear and comfortable, ensuring that users can enjoy their time on the water with peace of mind.
Swimming Waikato Chief Executive, Darren Ward says the aim of the Hub is to make these valuable life-saving jackets accessible for all who need them and also to ensure they are being used correctly by those heading out onto the water. I am confident lives will be saved as a result of this initiative.
According to Maritime New Zealand, each year in New Zealand an average of 19 or 20 people die in recreational boating accidents and not wearing a lifejacket is the leading risk factor. Teaching the importance of life jackets to the younger generation is one of the big drivers behind the life jacket hubs with schools and clubs able to hire them for lessons on water safety.
Drowning Prevention Auckland CEO Nicola Keen-Biggelaar says. “If we can make our young people treat life jackets as a must-have and not an optional accessory to life on the water, then hopefully we can make a generational change that will see the end of preventable drownings.”