With hot weather forecast for the long weekend and with people expected to head to the beaches, rivers and lakes in large numbers Water Safety New Zealand is urging everyone to ‘Respect the water’.
“While we want everyone to get out and enjoy the waterways it’s so important that water safety is part of your preparations,” says CEO Jonty Mills.
“With eight preventable drowning fatalities already this year across a diverse range of activities and environments we need everyone to think about the risks no matter what the aquatic activity,” says Jonty.
Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an influence, for example where the victim was boating, swimming or diving. Non-preventable include events such as suicides, homicides and vehicle accidents where water safety education and activity would not have prevented the death.
Over the last five Auckland Anniversary weekends from 2015 – 2019, there have been six preventable fatalities in Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.
“These fatalities happened while people were swimming, jumping into water, shell fishing, freediving and shows that all aquatic activities come with risk – this is why everyone needs to think about water safety,” says Jonty.
Key water safety messages are:
• Wear a fit for purpose correctly fitted lifejacket when boating, shell fishing, rock fishing, paddle boarding and kayaking.
• When out on the water take two waterproof ways to call for help and avoid alcohol.
• Swim between the flags at a patrolled beach and leave the inflatables at home.
• When diving and snorkelling have a safety plan and follow best practice – if in doubt don’t go out.
• Always take a buddy as a high number of drowning fatalities happen when people are alone.
• Rivers are changeable and contain hidden dangers - check before you jump and establish an exit point.
• Get local knowledge about local risks and obey warning signs.
• Toddlers require constant active adult supervision around water at all times and keep them within arms-reach and check properties for water hazards.
“We need everyone to remember the water safety code. Be prepared, watch out for yourself and each other, be aware of the dangers and know your limits” says Jonty.