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New Water Safety signs to prevent drownings

New Water Safety signs to prevent drownings

New water safety signs containing symbols instead of words should help reduce the worrying number of ethnic people drowning in New Zealand, Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter said today.

"I am delighted to see that Standards New Zealand and Water Safety New Zealand have developed a new standard based on internationally recognised symbols to inform people of water hazards.

"Statistics show that New Zealand has one of the worst drowning rates in the world, and that the number of Asian and Pacific Island drownings in particular, have almost doubled between 2001 and 2002.

"I know from reports of incidents along Auckland’s West Coast that those statistics might well be worse were it not for the good work of rescue groups like lifeguards and Coastguard.

"In most drownings there are a number of contributing factors but it makes good sense to ensure that a language barrier or inconsistency of signage is not one of them," Mr Carter said.

"Signs are important in ensuring water safety because it is completely impossible for all aquatic dangers to be patroled all of the time. All New Zealanders, including those who are new to New Zealand, deserve as much protection from the perils of water as we can give them. While it is not feasible to have multi-lingual signs appropriate to all water users, agreed international symbols are a good and effective compromise."

Mr Carter said he would ensure the Office of Ethnic Affairs actively promoted understanding of the signs among ethnic communities. The Department of Conservation would also be using them around its waterways.

"I will also be encouraging councils to consider adopting the new signage standard in their local by-laws," Mr Carter said.

See Standards NZ Information below...

New water safety signage Standard soon to make a splash!

A new Standard on water safety signage has been released by Standards New Zealand at a launch at Parliament today hosted by Chris Carter, Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Local Government and Conservation.

In 2002 New Zealand recorded its second lowest drowning toll in 20 years with 123 deaths. This figure is no cause for complacency however, says Brendon Ward from Water Safety NZ – Chair of the committee that developed the Standard.

“Given the country’s extensive coastline and New Zealanders’ well known enjoyment of all types of water sports, we need to keep a focus on safety. We wanted a Standard that establishes a level of consistency across New Zealand. The Standard is one of our strategies to achieve long term sustainable reductions in drowning,” Ward says.

The number of tourists or new immigrants to New Zealand who have drowned at our beaches make regular headline news. “While these signs in the new Standard are meant to protect everyone’s safety, the fact that they are based on internationally-recognised symbols rather than words aims to reduce the number of incidents in people new to New Zealand,” Ruth Heather, Project Manager says.

The Standard is not limited to beaches and applies to any water to which the public has access, including lakes and rivers, boat ramps, waterways, drainage systems and public pools. So in addition to local and central government agencies including TLAs (territorial local authorities), regional councils and the Department of Conservation, any company or private individual who provides public access to water, should use the Standard.

Standards New Zealand is keen to assist implementation of NZS8690:2003. The Standard is printed in full-colour and provides practical, easy-to-follow guidelines, and comes with a free CD featuring graphic images of all signs, suitable for multimedia presentations. An accompanying high resolution CD can also be ordered, in addition to the hard copy, which provides sign-makers with exact specifications for designing the new signs.

To order the Standard for Water Safety Signage (NZS8690:2003) contact Standards New Zealand Sales Ph 0800 735 656 or fax: 04 498 5994.

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