Preliminary figures from Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) indicate the preventable fatal drowning toll for the official holiday period is six.
The summer holiday period ran from 4.00pm Tuesday 24th December and ran through to 6.00am Friday 3rd January 2020.
"Every one of these preventable deaths is devastating for a family and a community and has real and profound impact on many people’s lives,” says WSNZ Chief Executive, Jonty Mills.
“It has also been another busy holiday period for our frontline services which indicates the toll could have easily been much worse,” says Mills. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers keeping Kiwis and visitors safe in, on and around the water.”
The holiday preventable drowning statistics show a number of the fatalities happened when people were alone. “This emphasises how important it is to take a buddy whenever you are taking part in any aquatic activity,” says Jonty Mills.
“While our waterways are our playground they can be incredibly unforgiving and need to be treated with respect,” says Jonty Mills.
“The toll reflects the complex nature of drowning in this country,” Mills added. “Drowning is not one dimensional. The numbers represent a wide range of age, activities and water environments.”
With the summer season ongoing for a few more months, WSNZ is appealing to all people to make wise decisions around water. “We know Kiwis will continue to enjoy our beautiful waterways as the warm weather continues. We need all Kiwis to take responsibility and think about water safety," says Mills.
Key safety messages include swimming between the flags at patrolled beaches, active adult supervision of children around water at all times, watching out for rips and always wearing a lifejacket on boats and while fishing from rocks.
Also boaties and paddlers need to take two waterproof forms of communication with them whenever they head out on the water.
“Remember 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 eight preventable drowning fatalities.
*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 include events such as suicides, homicides and vehicle accidents (where water safety education and activity would not have prevented the death).
Drowning data is sourced from Water Safety New Zealand’s DrownBaseTM and the figures provided are provisional as at 07/01/2020