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Lucky to be alive

Leslie Dam.
Leslie Dam.

A FORMER water police officer has warned about the importance of wearing life jackets after a 10-year-old boy came close to hyperthermia after his boat capsized at Leslie Dam.

Three adults and the boy were in the boat when it capsized in choppy conditions.

Andrew Gale, a former veteran water police officer and volunteer coast guard skipper said the people were lucky and the outcome could have been worse.

"The water and the air temperatures were both in their low teens at the time of the incident," Mr Gale said.

"At these low temperatures people can go into hypothermic shock quickly and rapidly lose their ability to survive.

"It's possible for humans to lose the use of their hands, arms and legs in less than 10 minutes in conditions like that."

Mr Gale said if the incident had happened further from the shoreline it could have been fatal.

The incident happened when the four- metre rowing boat was swamped while the occupants were attempting to anchor the vessel in the north-eastern corner of the dam about 50m from the shoreline.

The four occupants clung to the upturned vessel and made their way to shore.

The owner of the boat made his way from the shoreline to Saddledam Rd, where he was able to get help from a passing motorist.

At the time of the incident, Mr Gale, from AG Licensing, was performing boat licensing and assisted with the recovery of the vessel.

Mr Gale said he and other participants of the licensing course gave warm clothing to the passengers.

"For this reason I always stress the importance of wearing lifejackets while out on the water," Mr Gale said.

"A lifejacket is simple to use and if you happen to end up in the water it's much better to have one on.

"Especially in cold conditions it can help keep you a bit warmer."

Mr Gale said although the law only requires children under 12 years of age, in a small boat (under 4.8m) wearing lifejackets is just as important as wearing a seatbelt in a car.

"Lifejackets are proven life savers and over 80% of people killed in boating accidents last year were not wearing them," Mr Gale said.

"Boating accidents can occur just as quickly as car accidents."

The four locals in the boating incident declined to speak to the Daily News but said they were thankful for the help they had received at the scene of the incident.

The men lost about $1000 worth of personal equipment.

Water Police and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol regularly perform random breath tests and check lifejackets.

They also perform other checks to make sure all boating and fishing activities comply with rules and regulations.

Topics:  hyperthermia, leslie dam


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