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Pre-School Drowning Deaths Cause for Concern

10 August 2011

Pre-School Drowning Deaths Cause for Concern

Water Safety New Zealand today released statistics for the month of July in which four New Zealanders lost their lives in drowning incidents. The national drowning toll for the year to date - January through to the end July, now stands at 71; this is 16 more drowning victims when compared with the same time period from 2010.

Fatal incidents in July include two trainee divers, one pre schooler in the home and a kayaker.

Matt Claridge, General Manager, WSNZ comments “Uncertainty still exists around the dive training incident, investigations are still ongoing. The kayaker has neglected to wear a life jacket which was reckless. The avoidable death of a pre-school aged child occurred in the home environment.

“This is the ninth pre-school aged drowning victim in 2011. In the last five years there was an average of eight preschool drownings across the whole year, or 7% of the total toll. In 2011, preschoolers contribute 13% of the drowning toll year to date.”

Water represents a hazard for young children in the home, and immediate environment. Statistics reveal that almost all pre-school drownings have a lack of supervision as a common factor.

Claridge continues, “Constant supervision without distraction is of paramount importance but so is being alert to the identification and removal of potential hazards. A child can drown in water as little as four centimetres deep. That is the length of your little finger! Simply put, anything containing water which can be reached or climbed up to can be dangerous to a small child. Parents must be vigilant in terms of providing a safe environment.”

Three of July’s four drowning victims were Maori. The Maori drowning toll for 2011 is now 17 or 24% of the total toll. 15% of the population identify as being Maori, so this signifies a continued overrepresentation in drowning statistics.

ENDS

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