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Kiwis urged to “respect the water” over holidays

Water Safety New Zealand is hoping for zero drowning fatalities over the Christmas and New Year holiday and calling for all Kiwis to respect the water.

Currently the toll of 71 for 2019 is well up on 66 for 2018 which was the second lowest toll on record.

“New Zealand’s drowning problem is complex one” says WSNZ Chief Executive, Jonty Mills. “We’ve got increasing numbers of people taking part in an increasing number of water based activities and a largely volunteer based water safety sector” says Mills.

“Kiwis need to take personal responsibility and respect the water no matter what activity they’re undertaking. Our waters are welcoming but can be incredibly unforgiving”.

Jonty Mills is calling for parents and caregivers to be extra careful when it comes to keeping our tamariki safe around the water this holiday season.

“Tragically there have been six under-five drownings this year. Constant active adult supervision at all times is essential for toddlers and young children around water. It takes less than a minute for a child to drown” says Mills.

There has also been a spike in boating related fatalities. “It’s critical every boatie no matter what type of craft wears a lifejacket, takes two waterproof ways to call for help and checks the forecast whenever they are heading out” says Mills.

Also rock fishers and those collecting kaimoana need to use caution. “While there is pressure to collect kai over the festive season, it’s not worth losing your life over.”

The summer holiday period officially starts at 4.00pm Tuesday 24th December and runs through to 6.00am Friday 3rd January 2020.

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Last year the holiday toll was three preventable drowning fatalities, and for the last five years the average during this period is eight.

“Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for a family and a community” says Jonty Mills. “This unnecessary loss of life has a real and profound cost to our society.”

“We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday period, but when it comes to recreating in the water enjoy yourselves but remember the water safety code. Be prepared, know the risks and your limits, and watch out for yourself and others.”

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