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2002 Drownings – Second Lowest on Record

2002 Drownings – Second Lowest on Record

Water Safety New Zealand today released the provisional drowning figure for 2002 stating that 123 people drowned in New Zealand, the second lowest toll since 1980 when records began.

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) executive director, Alan Muir said the low drowning toll was despite a shocking start to 2002 where 25 people drowned in January. “While it is pleasing to see a reduction over the last year much more can be achieved, particularly in the recreational activities where too many preventable drownings are still occurring.”

A review of the year 2002 indicates that 100 of the 123 drowning victims were male (81%).

>From a recreational point of view, 15 people drowned while participating in angling, net or shell fishing in New Zealand. This is three higher than the 2001 toll and when combined with those who drowned in fishing related boating and underwater activities then fishing is an area that requires immediate attention.

The recreation boating toll of 25 in 2002 is disappointing given the amount of publicity for safe boating and skipper responsibility.

“A major BoatSafe advertising campaign by Water Safety New Zealand and ACC is currently underway. The key messages focus on skipper responsibility and ensuring the skipper is aware that they are legally responsible for the safety of the boat and all the people on board”, said Mr Muir.

It is pleasing that there was only one sporting related drowning in 2002, a boogie boarder in the Nelson area, following a number of years with high figures in this category.

There were 30 accidental immersions, where the person had no intention of being in the water and five people drowned while attempting to rescue others.

Vehicle related drownings were 7, a record low and half the 2001 total reflecting the significantly lower road toll this year.

January is traditionally the month where improved weather and annual holidays sees an increase in drownings so it is critical that people enjoy the water safely, know their abilities and skill level and acknowledge their limitations.

This includes being RiverSafe by recognising dangers, assessing the water flow, and checking for hidden obstacles; being SurfSafe by swimming between the flags at beaches; being BoatSafe through skippers checking out the conditions and ensuring boats are well maintained with appropriate safety equipment; being PoolSafe by having non-slip pool surfaces and surrounds and that home pools are properly fenced; and always supervising children in and around water.

“Think safe in, on and under the water over the summer period and a lot of fun will be had in our brilliant waterways” said Mr Muir.


Provisional drowning statistics from DrownBase™, the official database of Water Safety New Zealand

A total of 123 people drowned in New Zealand in the year 2002 · 100 (81%) of all drowning victims were male · Alcohol was known to have been involved in 12 (10%) of the drownings

Non-recreational breakdown (where there is no intention of being in the water) · The 58 non-recreational drownings equals 47% of the drowning total · Immersion accidents accounted for 30 (24%) drownings · 7 (6%) drownings were as a result of road vehicle accidents the lowest on record and reflecting the record low road toll for 2002

Recreational breakdown · Recreational drownings totalled 65, (53%) up 10 on the previous 3 years average · Boating accounted for 25 (20%) drownings. 11 (44%) of these were in the 45+ age bracket and 23 (92%) were male · 15 (12%) people drowned while fishing angling, net or shell fishing · 15 (12%) people drowned while swimming · Snorkelling and scuba diving had eight drownings double that of last years figure

Site breakdown · 30 people drowned in rivers, creeks and streams. This equates to 24% of all drownings · A total of 30 (24%) people drowned at beaches (20 at surf beaches, three at calm water beaches, and seven at the rocky foreshore) · 27 people drowned in the open sea (22%) · Four people drowned in lakes compared with 11 in 2001 · Four people drowned in home swimming/spa pools. Two of these were pre-schoolers

Ethnicity breakdown · Caucasians = 73 (59%) · Maori = 24 (20%) · Asians = 13 (11%) · Pacific Islanders = 9 (7%) · Indian = 1 (1%) · Unknown = 3 (2%)

Age breakdown · The most at risk age group in 2002 was the 25-30 year olds with 13 (11%) drownings · This was followed by pre-schoolers, 20-25 and 50-55 year olds all with 11 (9%) drownings · The next highest age groups were the 30-35 and 35-39 year olds with 10 (8%) drownings each

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