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Water safety head calls for zero drowning toll

Water safety head calls for zero drowning toll

Water Safety New Zealand is calling for a zero drowning toll this Christmas Holiday period.

On average (last five years) ten people drown in New Zealand waters each official Christmas holiday period – which this year goes from 4pm Christmas Eve until 6am 3 January 2013. Last year, nine people lost their lives in the water during this time.

Water Safety New Zealand CEO Matt Claridge says the official Christmas holiday week – when people flock to rivers, lakes and beaches around the country – is historically a high-risk time.

“A greater number of people taking part in water based activity results in higher risk and more incidents, but if everyone makes safety a priority and remembers the basics - wear lifejackets, keep kids within arm’s reach, know your limits and don’t drink alcohol when taking part in water based activity– then a zero toll is achievable.”

Fishermen were over represented in 2011’s Christmas holiday toll with four men drowning while fishing and Matt Claridge says this should be a reminder to others.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re fly fishing in rivers, casting off rocks, or out in a boat, the safety requirements are the same. Take a mate, check the marine weather forecast and always wear a life jacket.”

Mr Claridge says 86 people have drowned in our waters so far this year, and while the number is down on the same time last year, it’s still too high.

“New Zealand has one of the worst drowning tolls in the developed world. This is a nationwide problem that everyone needs to play a part in solving. If everyone is prepared, knows their limits and keeps an eye on their friends and family in and around the water, we can reverse the trend.”

Mr Claridge says he hopes to be announcing a zero drowning toll come 3 January but for that to happen, he needs the help of all New Zealanders.


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