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Move to improve safety on the water

The Bermuda Water Safety Council will next month host a safety seminar and cruise to help local boaters stay up to date on safety concerns.

Along with safety talks at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the October 20 event will include a two-hour cruise on the MV Elizabeth, where the use of safety equipment like rockets and flares will be demonstrated.

Council chairman Ralph Richardson said there have been several serious accidents at night in Bermuda's waters in recent years and three men had died as a result.

“We felt that it was time that we put on something to help people be able to operate their vehicles both in the day time and also at night,” he said. “We are not only going to be looking at the channels and navigating at night, which is very important, but we will also with the police service be demonstrating the use of rockets and flares.

“Most people have them on their boat and have never used them. There's nowhere to practice with them, so this is an opportunity for most people to operate a rocket or flare for the first time.

“When you have an accident, especially a catastrophic accident like a fire or an explosion, you don't have time to read instructions. I can tell you that most people, if you ask them to light a flare today they wouldn't know how to do it.”

Dennis Rowe, of Bermuda maritime Operation's Centre, said the seminar would provide an excellent opportunity for mariners to learn how to operate EPRIBs (Emergency Position Indicting Radio Beacons), VHF DSC (Digital Selective Calling) and AIS (Automatic Identification System) equipment, noting that there is a growing issue of boaters relying on cellular phones rather than VHF radios.

“A lot of mariners believe that a cell phone will substitute for a VHF, and there are a lot of reasons why it doesn't,” he said. “If your cell phone falls overboard, you have no communication.”

The Council is urging members of the public to bring outdated flares to the Tynes Bay Waste Facility where, until October 14, there will be a designated flare collection for the event.

Sargeant Paul Watson, of the Bermuda Police Service Marine Unit, said that most flares expire after around three years.

“Depending on the age of the flare itself it may not work or it may actually explode,” Sgt Watson said. “That's part and parcel of the reason why they have expiration dates.”

He also stressed the importance of the use of life jackets, noting that in many recent incidents people fail to put on life jackets, or do so improperly.

“There have been incidents both here and overseas where failure to wear your life jacket correctly has caused an individual to drown,” he said. “As part of this lecture series I will go over the types of life jackets that are available and, more important, the correct methodology on how to wear the life jackets.”

Water safety: Bermuda Water Safety Council chairman Ralph Richardson, police sergeant Paul Watson and Denis Rowe, of the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre, speak about an upcoming boat safety seminar and cruise.

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Published September 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 25, 2013 at 12:35 am)

Move to improve safety on the water

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