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Police urge public to be safe on the water this summer

Police urge public to be safe on the water this summer


As summer temperatures are making our beaches, rivers and lakes more inviting, the Police National Dive Squad urge everyone to be safety conscious before taking the plunge.

Focusing on safety ensures a life time of fun in, on or under the water says Senior Sergeant Bruce Adams from the Police National Dive Squad.

"Our message to all water sports enthusiasts this summer is to think about safety before getting in the water. Be prepared and keep an eye on the weather and water conditions. If the conditions are unfavorable, put your gear away and have a break.

“Unfortunately, 81 people lost their lives from drowning during 2013. We all need to take time to consider all activities around water this coming festive season, even if it is just ensuring we are actively watching and supervising those in the water.”

This message extends to those diving this summer. Four people lost their lives from complications while snorkeling, scuba diving or free diving last year.

“It is often a series of events or poor decision making that can lead to drowning. The onus is on the divers themselves to recognise, maintain or manage these issues to ensure a safe experience”, Adams says.

Many factors including limited air supply, exceeding safe ascent rates, ill fitting equipment, and diving without a buddy can have fatal consequences.

“When such factors occur on their own they can often be dealt with by the diver. However when faced with a combination of these, the diver is placed under enormous stress and may begin to panic. Panic reduces the diver's cognitive ability to work through the situation. The situation can begin to escalate beyond control and may not be dealt with successfully.

“Make sure your equipment is appropriate for the activity taking place; you are familiar with how they operate, and wear a life jacket where applicable. Planning can ensure that you won’t get caught out” Adams says.

Since Christmas, the Police National Dive Squad has recovered five bodies from New Zealand waters. A sixth operation is currently underway in Gisborne to recover a missing kayaker who was not wearing his lifejacket.

Water Safety New Zealand CEO Matt Claridge says all New Zealanders need to make water safety a priority.

"A huge amount of work is being done to drive attitudinal and behavioural change when it comes to water safety. We need everyone to always remember the basics and take the necessary precautions if we're to reduce our drowning toll for good."

Important water safety tips:

• Always wear a lifejacket
• Keep children within sight and reach around water
• Monitor the weather and water
• Know how to use your marine radio and how to call for help if you need it
• Call for help at the first sign of trouble
• Check for hidden objects before jumping or diving
• Avoid alcohol.

Tips for divers:

• Seek formal training
• Ensure you are medically fit
• Get your gear checked regularly (including regulators and buoyancy compensator devices)
• Make sure your gear fits correctly
• Dive with a buddy and stay together
• Take turns following each other and carrying the catch bag
• Check your air supply
• Do not exceed safe ascent rates
• Set up equipment correctly
• Do pre dive equipment checks with your buddy, no matter how experienced you are
• Make sure you are aware of other water users in your area
• Do not exceed your personal diving capabilities.

Further water safety and diving advice can be found at:

www.watersafety.org.nz; www.nzu.org.nz; or www.divenewzealand.com

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