NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers will be out on State waters from Saturday 7 January until Sunday 15 January to promote towing and water-skiing safety.
NSW Maritime Acting General Manager Maritime Operations Trevor Williams said Operation Tow Smart was designed to educate the boating community on the potential dangers associated with all towing activities on the water and how to prepare and maintain a boat safely.
'Operation Tow Smart follows several serious towing incidents in NSW over the past week,' Mr Williams said. 'Boating Safety Officers all over NSW will be stopping boaters to raise awareness of towing and propeller strike safety as well as for safety checks.
'Skippers should be particularly careful when engaged in towing activities or when near swimmers or divers – and should remember that some propellers may continue to spin even when the engine is in neutral. For the safety of everyone on the water, skippers should always check that the area near the back of the boat is all clear before starting the engine.'
Mr Williams said boat propeller injuries can be severe and life threatening. Since 31 October 2001, there have been seven fatalities and 69 permanent injuries as a result of propeller strikes, and an average of seven injuries a year.
'In 2011, there were seven propeller strike incidents resulting in one fatality and six serious injuries.'
Mr Williams said NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers would also use the campaign to raise awareness of fire-prevention especially for vessels fitted with petrol inboard engines, and to remind boaters about the new lifejacket laws.
'Inboard petrol engines pose a considerable risk of fire and explosion if suitable precautions aren’t taken,' Mr Williams said. 'This can result in the destruction of the vessel and serious burns to those on board.
'There have been numerous incidents in recent years on NSW waters involving fire and petrol engines. The risk of fire can be minimised by regularly checking bilges and fuel systems for signs of leaks, and always carefully ventilating the bilge and engine space before starting the engine.'
For more information on towing and inboard petrol engines as well as general boating safety go to www.maritime.nsw.gov.au