Queensland boaters and jet skiers are being urged to prioritise safety including lifejackets as the State heads into another busy season for its waterways.
Last year, 14 people drowned or went missing in reported marine incidents in Queensland waters, but only one was known to be wearing a lifejacket.
Public safety advocate Alison Barrett, from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, urged water users to incorporate lifejacket safety into their pre-trip preparation.
“Lifejackets are literally lifesavers, especially when crossing coastal bars where conditions can change very quickly,” Ms Barrett said.
“We are encouraging Queenslanders to put on a lifejacket before their trip, as it’s much harder to put one on during an emergency.”
Ms Barrett said boat and jet ski operators should ensure there are enough life jackets for all passengers, and that everyone knows where they are and how to use them.
They should also remember to inspect lifejackets for any signs of wear and tear, and make sure they are serviced regularly.
“Being prepared and using the right safety equipment can protect you, your family and other water users when the unexpected happens,” Ms Barrett said.
“Enjoying water is part of our Queensland lifestyle, but doing it safely means that everyone can have fun without the risk of injury, or worse.”
Other important safety measures include avoiding alcohol, obeying speed limits and keeping a safe distance from other water users, such as swimmers and paddlers.
“Unfortunately, accidents do happen on the water. Kayaks and swimmers will almost always come off second best if they’re in a collision with a boat or jet ski.
“Like driving a car, operating a boat or riding a jet ski is a skill. If you’re unable to do it safely, you put others in danger.”
Maritime Safety Queensland figures show that in 2019 there were 332 marine incidents that involved at least one regulated ship, such as a motorboat, jet ski or sailboat.
These incidents resulted in 109 people being injured, including 37 who were admitted to hospital, and 18 deaths.
Of the 332 marine incidents, the most (171) occurred in the Brisbane maritime region, which included 45 in Pinkenba, 89 on the Gold Coast and 37 on the Sunshine Coast.
Other marine incidents were reported in the regions of Gladstone (76), Mackay (37), Townsville (23) and Cairns (25).
In Queensland it is compulsory to wear a lifejacket when crossing a designated coastal bar in an open boat that is less than 4.8 metres in length.
Children under the age of 12 must wear a lifejacket in an open boat less than 4.8 metres long when it is underway.