by Penny Robins
Operation Brass Monkey, a hypothermia awareness campaign, is to be conducted by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) on all State waterways this June long weekend.
NSW Transport Roads and Maritime services
RMS A/General Manager Maritime Operations Trevor Williams said Boating Safety Officers would randomly check all sizes and types of boats to ensure those on board know the dangers of and how to prevent hypothermia, and have on board all required safety equipment.
'Boating in cold weather means a higher risk of developing hypothermia from wind-chill, capsize and damp and wet clothes,' Mr Williams said.
'Hypothermia is the condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions.
'Immersion in cold water exacerbates this and leads to a massive rise in blood pressure coupled with rapid breathing which causes the body to lose heat up to 25 times faster than normal.
'The shock of sudden immersion in cold water can be a serious threat to survivors of accidents, especially people who are older or unfit.'
Mr Williams said the best way to avoid getting hypothermia is not to put yourself in the situation where you have an increased risk of capsize or swamping.
'That means checking the weather before you go, and throughout the voyage. If in doubt, don't go out,' Mr Williams said.
'Children and poor swimmers should wear a lifejacket at all times and this goes for everyone if conditions get rough.
'Boaters should also be wary of using gumboots and waders as these make it difficult to swim should you fall into the water.
'Boat owners should also keep decks and cockpits free of slipping and tripping hazards.'
Mr Williams said while hypothermia is usually thought to be related to exposure or immersion in water in winter, prolonged exposure could result in hypothermia at any time of the year. At Tuggerah Lakes in February, four men and a seven-year-old boy suffered hypothermia after their boat capsized and they spent several hours in the water.
NSW Roads and Maritime Services website