Holiday Period Drowning Toll Stands At Eight
Figures from Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) indicate the preventable drowning* toll for the official holiday period (running from 4.00pm 23rd December to 6.00am 4th January 2017) is eight.
"Compared to ten for the same period last year, it's a slight improvement. However, one preventable drowning is one too many and a tragedy for all families involved during what is supposed to be a festive time," says WSNZ Chief Executive, Jonty Mills.
Mills says this year’s number reflects the broad nature of the drowning problem in New Zealand. "We have very high participation across a wide range of water based activities, be it at the beach, rivers, lakes or pools. Sadly, the fatalities this year have been spread across a number of these waterways."
The eight preventable drownings recorded all occurred in the North Island, with zero reported from the South Island. Four of the eight preventable drownings were of people over the age of 55. Five were male and three female.
Mills says the drowning figures also show the importance of having others with you when participating in water-based activities.
“A number of these drownings were of people who got into trouble when they were by themselves. It shows how crucial it is to have someone with you who can either help or call for help if needed.”
One positive for WSNZ is young kiwi males who make up around a third of the preventable drowning toll.
"We are specifically targeting this group with our summer campaign, The Swim Reaper, this year. There were zero drownings of those aged 15 - 30 over the official holiday period," says Mills.
"We're still right in the thick of the holiday season and will be for a couple more months yet. The water is our playground. All Kiwis need to take responsibility and think water safety first, before participating in any way, shape or form."
The lowest number for the official holiday period in recent times was two back in 2006 and the highest was eleven in 2008.
WSNZ will release the provisional drowning toll for 2016 (national and regional) on Wednesday 11 January.
*Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an influence (for example where the victim was boating, swimming, diving) while non-preventable drowning deaths include events such as suicides, homicides and vehicle accidents (where water safety education and activity would not have prevented the death).