Drowning toll decreases over holiday period

By Regan Paranihi

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) have released the figures of the drowning toll during the holiday period that officially came to an end today.

The figure stands at three, making it five less than last year.

WSNZ Chief Executive Jonty Mills says, “ This is five less than last years’ toll for the same period and whilst encouraging, one preventable drowning is one too many and a tragedy for all families and communities involved."

One drowning occurred in the North Island while the other two occurred in the South. One 24-year-old female and two males aged 54 and 68.

Mills say while it is unfortunate, the figure is encouraging as it was expected to be higher with the busy season and the early onset of summer with hotter weather, “ We have very high participation rates across a wide range of water-based activities, be it at the beach, rivers, lakes or pools."

He is pleased that males aged 15 – 30 were not featured in the holiday period fatalities, as they make up a third of the annual preventable fatal drownings  

"We are specifically targeting this group with our digital summer campaign, The Swim Reaper. There were zero drownings of males aged 15 - 30 over the official holiday period."

2017 was a tragic year for under-fives as seven toddlers lost their life drowning. Mills is pleased no under-fives lost their lives during the holiday period.

"The summer holidays go on for a couple more months yet and we know Kiwis will continue to enjoy our beautiful waterways as the warm weather goes on. We need all Kiwis need to take responsibility and think about water safety" says Mills.

He urges everyone to continue using the water safety code. Be prepared, watch out for yourself and each other, be aware of the dangers and know your limits.

The average toll during this period for the last five years is seven preventable drowning fatalities.

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 2017 (national and regional) on Monday 15 January.

For safety tips and other information visit http://www.watersafety.org.nz