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Make sure your safety gear is ready for summer
  |  First Published: October 2015



At this time of the year, when the boat is coming out of hibernation after the footy season, it’s well worth doing a little bit of a stocktake on your safety gear. After all, when you need it, you’ll be glad that you did.

Do you have the required gear? Is it in working order? Are the batteries charged and ready to use? Is there anything more than the prescribed gear that you’d like to have on board when things get nasty?

These are all the questions you should be asking yourself each time your safety gear collection comes under the microscope.

As an example, let’s put a few of the items under the spotlight and see if they’d make your boat a safer place to be while out on the water.

KAPTEN BOAT COLLAR

You mightn’t think that a boat collar for your tinnie is a piece of safety gear, but the people at Kapten realised this early on and developed their product with this in mind.

NSW Department of Transport found that falling overboard and vessels capsizing accounted for 60% of all fatalities while recreational boating (2002-2012). The addition of a Boat Collar to your tinnie adds a reverse chine and a massive amount of flotation that drastically reduces the risk of falling out of your boat or having it capsize.

The Kapten collar is a shaped piece of foam that is fitted to the gunwales of your boat and can be fitted to most hulls.

Check out www.kaptenboatcollar.com for more details and pricing.

NAVIGATION LIGHTS

It’s usually when you’re getting a written ticket by your local Maritime authority that you realise that your all round white ‘anchor’ light should be on at all times – not just when you’re anchored.

Indeed, a set of fully functioning, well fitted navigation lights are essential if you want to do any boating and fishing at all between sunset and sunrise.

This includes pre-dawn launches. Just ask ABT’s Simon Goldsmith, who copped a fine one morning in Sydney Harbour around 5 minutes before the prescribed ‘sunrise’ time for having his red and green lights on but not the all round white light!

PFDs

Each year, you should check your PFDs in a few, key areas.

If they are a foam PFD, you need to check that the coverings are not ripped or wearing. This could mean that when you go to use them, they’d fall apart when you jump in the water.

If they’re an inflatable type PFD, then you need to get them certified and tested every year or two – depending on the manufacturer’s instructions or the regulations of the state you’re boating in.

In practice, I’ve seen people wearing inflatable PFDs where the canister of CO2 has worked its way loose and dropped off the mechanism.

This would mean that when you pull the cord, then absolutely nothing would happen. That’s the last thing you’d want. You only pull the cord when you need to.

FIRST AID KIT

There’s nothing worse than being in a situation where you need a first aid kit and yours is missing or depleted.

Make sure that you check the contents at least every season to make sure that you have what you need when there’s trouble. Remember in particular, that you may need treatments for seasickness, sunburn and getting impaled by a fish hook.

On a boat, it’s definitely best to have your first aid kit packed in a waterproof box or container.

CHECK YOUR FUEL…

You should make sure that your fuel supply is not compromised – especially if your craft has sat idle for a while.

There is a suite of additives that keep the octane level boosted and mechanically, you need to keep an eye on your fuel filters to check for the presence of any water. Once a fuel filter is full of water, it stops working.

… AND BATTERIES

Lastly, and probably obviously, you should make sure that your batteries are charged and capable. But we’re not just talking about your motor starting battery.

If you have a Jump Starter, these only work as well as the charge you give them. And what about the EBIRP? Have the batteries passed their use by date?

You know what if you ever need to flip the switch, you’ll want them to be at full strength, so take the time now and make the investment in your own safety by making sure that these are up to scratch.

CHECKLIST

• Prescribed safety gear for the waters you’re boating in?

• EPIRB

• Flares

• PFDs

• Radio

• Lighting

• Batteries

• Fuel filters

• Jump starters

• Boat insurance

• Anchors

• First-aid kit

Relaxn next step in LED Navigation Safety

The durable Relaxn LED Navigation Lights are ultra-low power consumption. Using the latest technology in LED lighting using the 5050 SMD LEDs, not only are they ultra-bright but low power consumption at just 1.1watt per light.

All Relaxn LED Navigation Lights are internationally approved ABYC-A16, USCG, 2nm visibility suitable for vessels up to 12m. Each light is manufactured from ultra-durable UV resistant polycarbonate, with an IP67 rating. The LEDs have an ultra-long service life and are purpose-built for the harsh marine environment. Prewired for easy installation and comes in black, white or high polished stainless steel housings with models designed for horizontal or vertical mounting.

You can relax knowing you have a Relaxn product. – Sam Allen Wholesale

Warning on unauthorised battery replacements on EPIRBs

Periodic battery replacement is essential to maintaining the compliance of EPIRBS and PLBs beacons with applicable ANZ standards. These standards are produced in order to maximise the likelihood of the beacon functioning correctly in the adverse environments in which distress and emergencies generally arise.

Only the manufacturer or its authorised service centre has the necessary equipment, access to the factory approved parts and technical information to carry out battery replacement or repairs and then confirm that the beacon continues to meet the relevant standard.

Serious risks arise if batteries are replaced or repairs to beacons are undertaken by someone other than the manufacturer (or its authorised service centres).

In recent weeks it has come to our attention that a number of non-certified beacon service centres are offering a low cost EPIRB and PLB battery replacement service.

While such offers and operations are not technically breaking the law in replacing beacon batteries, they are certainly exposing themselves for liability particularly if the beacon owner is unaware they are non-compliant and the beacon may not function correctly in an emergency.

Australian/New Zealand standard 4280.1 (EPIRB) and 4280.2 (PLB) mandate that beacons must be returned to the manufacturer or a manufacturer’s approved service centre when repairs or battery replacement are required. This standard document is available from www.standards.org.au.

Furthermore, if a beacon is required to meet carriage requirements under CASA or Maritime regulations the standard requires the beacon must be compliant with AS/NZ 4280.1 for EPIRBs or 4280.2 for PLBs. Consequently if the beacon battery was replaced or serviced by a non-certified service centre then the beacon is non-compliant for mandatory carriage requirements in Australia.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has provided further clarification and guidance on beacon maintenance. www.beacons.amsa.gov.au/maintenance/

Should there be any doubt regarding the status of companies offering battery service on GME EPIRBs, please contact us directly on 1300 462 462 or by email at --e-mail address hidden-- – GME

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