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New Zealanders continue to underestimate water risks

New Zealanders continue to underestimate water risks
October 5, 2018

Research by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) has revealed over a third of New Zealanders have experienced a serious situation in the water, and continue to underestimate the danger posed by the country’s waterways.

In WSNZ’s third annual Attitudes and Behaviour survey drowning is recognised as a problem by 84% of respondents and is fifth behind child abuse, domestic violence, road safety and bullying.

The reality is drowning is the leading cause of recreational death, the second highest cause of death for one to 24 year olds and the third highest cause of accidental death.

Respondents cited the main factors for getting into trouble as underestimating the conditions (40%) and lack of knowledge about the environment (30%). 

Advising that this reflects what’s happening in terms of preventable drownings, injuries and risky behaviour, WSNZ Chief Executive Jonty Mills comments “one in three people experienced a serious situation in the water with underestimating the conditions and poor knowledge of the environment the top reasons why people get into trouble. This is something we see happening time and time again when it comes to fatal preventable drowning incidents.

“This is why we want to see Water Skills for Life aquatic education taught in every primary school. It is crucial everyone is taught to understand and assess risk when it comes to water and how to stay safe.”

In 2017, 88 people died in preventable drowning incidents, up from 78 in 2016 and there have been 40 preventable fatalities so far in 2018. New Zealand’s drowning rate per capita is very high compared to other developed countries.

Mills adds “the drowning toll shows the work that needs to be done to change the attitudes and behaviour of New Zealanders when it comes to water safety. Too many people continue to die needlessly in our waters.”

Image: WSNZ's effective Swim Reaper campaign.

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13th December 2017 - New Zealand water safety sector sounds alarm bells ahead of holiday period

17th November 2017 - Water Safety New Zealand invests $1.66 million into water safety education

28th September 2017 - Report shows small decrease in preventable drowning in New Zealand

8th September 2017 - Concern over declining swimming skills among New Zealand children

10th August 2017 - NZRA: ‘New Zealand’s aquatics industry and pool lifeguards are not failing’

24th February 2016 - Pool Super Vision technique adopted at first New Zealand facility

25th September 2015 - Collaborative plan to address New Zealand’s high drowning toll

21st January 2015 - Growing inequality means more children at risk in the water

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