Keeping kids safe around water

21:19, Jan 13 2014

A boat safety programme for school children has been successful in getting its message across to parents this summer.

The safety programme, run by Environment Southland and Southern Boating Courses, began in 2012.

Environment Southland deputy harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver said the popular programme had another successful year teaching pupils how to keep safe on the water during summer.

He teaches pupils how to wear lifejackets, and makes sure they are wearing the right size and have bright colours on to be seen in the water.

Pupils kept their feet dry but got the chance to stand on the council's five metre harbour patrol vessel Toroa while being taught about safe practices in and around boats.

"It's always an ongoing battle to get the message across, but kids are keeping their parents honest. It's just like wearing a seatbelt in a car - it should be automatic."


Fourteen schools were visited in its first year and six were put on the waiting list. Those places were visited last year, including Lumsden and Sacred Heart schools.

"Schools understand the importance of teaching pupils about boating safety," he said.

He believed the programme was unique in New Zealand. "We are the only region that we know of that visits schools."

Visits to high schools were also being considered, but the focus would still be on pupils at the moment, he said.

Letters would be sent out to Southland primary and intermediate schools this month, and those interested in a visit could contact Environment Southland.

"We will try to accommodate everyone we can," Mr Cleaver said.