Maritime Safety Victoria’s Manager Recreational Boating Safety Lisa Taylor said statistics showed that boaters drown when they fall in the water unexpectedly.

“Lifejacket laws were introduced in 2005 to protect those people who are more likely to fall in the water whether it is because of capsizing, breakdown or swamping.

“Although many people are doing the right thing by wearing their lifejackets, there are still some people who take a huge risk by not wearing their lifejacket.

“The wearing of a lifejacket will buy you time should you fall unexpectedly into the water.

“People who are in a boat 4.8 metres or less must wear a lifejacket, as do those who boat alone or at night.

“It is important for parents to make sure any children under 10 years-of-age are wearing lifejackets all the time.

“Many people don’t realise that lifejacket laws also apply to range of other vessels such as  personal water craft, canoe, kayak, raft, a pedal boat or fun boat, kite or sail board or a recreational tender.

Ms Taylor said lifejacket laws are there to protect people from drowning in a range of dangerous situations, including:

  • when crossing an ocean bar
  • when operating within a designated hazardous area
  • when boating between one hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset
  • boating in restricted visibility
  • if the vessel breaks down
  • when safety barriers, lifelines, rails, safety harnesses or jacklines are not being used
  • when boating in an area where the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a weather warning.

“At the end of the day, if you are unsure about when to wear a lifejacket – wear one all the time because we want you come home safely from your boating,” Ms Taylor said.