Water Safety New Zealand is calling for all Kiwis to stay water safe over Christmas and New Year during what is traditionally the highest period for preventable drowning fatalities.
Currently the toll for 2017 is 13 ahead of 2016 and the early start to summer means Kiwis are already flocking to the water in their droves.
“Summertime and the water go hand in hand in New Zealand and so far it’s been a warm one,” says WSNZ Chief Executive, Jonty Mills. “We want people to enjoy themselves, but also take a second to think about water safety.”
The summer holiday period officially starts at 4.00pm Friday 22nd December and runs through to 6.00am Wednesday 3rd January 2017.
“This is a particularly high risk period. Most Kiwis are out playing in the water in some way, shape or form” says Mills. “While all water based activities carry some risk – much of this can be mitigated if basic water safety is followed.”
Jonty Mills says everyone should remember the Water Safety Code - “Be prepared, watch out for yourself and others, be aware of the dangers and know your limits. Also avoid alcohol around water.”
Last year the holiday toll was 8, and for the last five years the average during this period is 7 preventable drowning fatalities.
“Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for a family and a community” says Jonty Mills.
“Tragically there has been a rise in under five drownings this year. Active adult supervision at all times is essential for toddlers and young children. It takes less than a minute for a child to drown” says Mills.
Year to date figures indicate that of the 82 preventable drownings so far this year, almost 40% have been accidental immersions. “These are people who ended up in the water when they had no intention of doing so and highlights the need for people to be prepared and aware around water” says Jonty Mills.