Lifejacket upgrade drive 

South Coast boaties can swap their old lifejackets for new ones with the help of the NSW government.

The government’s Old4New lifejacket van will be visiting the region this weekend showing off new designs in jackets.

It was at Kiama Harbour boat ramp this morning and at Greys Beach in Nowra till 6pm today.

Sunday morning, it will stop in at Foreshore Road, Port Kembla, from 6am to 9am.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the stopover was part of a planned 100 visits to boat ramps across the state.

‘‘By getting around to popular boat locations all around the state, we’ll be talking directly to the boating community,’’ Mr Ward said.

‘‘The aim of the Old4New lifejacket upgrade initiative is to increase awareness of new generation lifejackets that can be worn in comfort all day.

‘‘It will also give people in the Illawarra the opportunity to exchange their old lifejackets and get a discount off new ones.’’

Mr Ward said the recent lifejackets were designed to be more comfortable, which in turn would make people more inclined to wear them while out on the water.

‘‘Lifejackets, like a lot of other products, have improved and evolved over time,’’ Mr Ward said.

‘‘If you compare the old big and bulky lifejackets with our modern day, slimline products, you’ll see how much they’ve advanced and are now comfortable to wear during any type of on-water activity.’’

Lifejackets must be worn in craft under 4.8metres at night, offshore, on alpine waters or when alone; and by anyone under the age of 12 years.

Mr Ward said that lifejackets could save lives – over the last decade, nine out of 10 people who drowned while boating were not wearing a lifejacket.

‘‘Getting out on the water is fun, but accidents can and do happen, especially in smaller craft which are less stable and more susceptible to capsize and swamping than larger vessels,’’ Mr Ward said.

‘‘People need to make putting on a lifejacket a habit, a bit like putting on sunscreen, because one day it might just save your life.’’

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