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Safe Summer initiatives making a difference

Safe Summer initiatives making a difference

April 28, 2006

Community initiatives such as North Shore City Council's 'Make it a Safe Summer' campaign have contributed to a safer summer for New Zealanders in and on the water.

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) has credited water safety activities around the country with the significant drop in drowning fatalities this year. In March, nationwide water-related deaths dropped by 40 per cent compared with the previous year; down from 44 to 27.

Maritime New Zealand is reporting similar success, and acknowledging the part played by community action. The number of boating-related deaths has dropped from 18 to eight.

"The tendency for communities to take ownership of water safety issues is being reflected in lower drowning figures," says WSNZ project manager, Matt Claridge.

North Shore City's 'Make it a Safe Summer' campaign was launched in 2004 to bring together and better promote the council's safety messages relating to water, dogs, alcohol, food, boating and driving.

This summer, the council teamed up with national and regional agencies to widen the campaign, and pool expertise and resources. Project partners included ACC, Shoresafe, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, WaterSafe Auckland and Maritime New Zealand.

For the second consecutive year, the campaign has helped North Shore City enjoy an incident-free summer in the water. The previous year, the council's beach patrol officers had even saved the life of a swimmer during their routine patrols.

Safety messages have appeared in newspapers, on street banners and bus shelters. Safety information and giveaways have been handed out at the council-sponsored Shore Sounds concert series and other summer events throughout the city.

North Shore City environmental protection team leader, Warwick Robertson, says it's easy to ignore the hidden dangers during summer, particularly where children and water are concerned.

"We're not trying to spoil the fun. We're just giving people a gentle reminder to be vigilant," he says. "These are simple messages, but they could easily save a life."

The council hopes to expand the campaign still further and is seeking community sponsorship from local businesses and organisations. This year boat safety signs were erected all over the city courtesy of real estate company Barfoot and Thompson.

"It's been heartening to see the community get behind the programme. We couldn't do it without their help," says Mr Robertson.


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