Drowning toll at 91

So far this year, 91 drowning fatalities have been recorded in New Zealand – including two in the Bay of Plenty.

Maninder Singh and his friend Jagdeep Singh both died after getting into trouble at Lake McLaren in November.

Two people drowned at McLaren Falls last month. Photo: Cameron Avery.

They were part of a group of friends visiting the popular recreational park around 10 minutes’ drive from Tauranga. Read more here.

Police national dive squad Senior Sergeant Bruce Adams says beaches, rivers and lakes become more inviting as the holiday period and summer temperatures approach.

But he’s urging everyone to be cautious before taking the plunge.

“Unfortunately, we have already recovered 21 bodies this year and seen horrendous drowning figures,” admits Bruce.

So far in 2015 there have been 91 drowning fatalities (1 Jan – 21 December, 2015), while at the same time last year there had been 85 drowning deaths.

The total for 2014 was 90.

“There have been seven deaths as a result of diving this year so far, two of these in the Wellington region,” says Bruce.

“This includes snorkel, scuba or free-diving. The five-year average is five underwater drowning deaths per year.

“These are hugely tragic events for family and friends, more so at this time of year and our thoughts go out to all.

“To avoid these from occurring 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.”

Bruce urges people to make sure the equipment and toys are appropriate for the activity taking place and that you are familiar with its operation.

If all else fails you can save yourself by ensuring your swimming ability is right for the conditions or you are wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device. 

Plan for the worst and you won’t get caught out, he continues.

“Part of the Police Dive Squad’s role is testing equipment that has been recovered in diver deaths,” he says.

“Often a combination of factors leads to fatalities.

“The onus is on the diver themselves to recognise, maintain or manage these issues to ensure a safe diving experience.”

The Police National Dive Squad has identified a number of common factors in dive fatalities, including using all of the available air supply, exceeding safe ascent rate and dive times or carrying excessive weight to name just a few.            

“Our message to all water sports enthusiasts this summer is to think safety before you put your boat or yourself in the water,” says Bruce. 

“Be prepared and keep an eye on the weather and water conditions. If it’s not looking good or you’re not sure, then put the gear away and have a break.”

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