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WSNZ asks if Water Safety is still a Priority?
55 drowning deaths in New Zealand in the first six months of the year have prompted Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) to question whether water safety is still a priority.
WSNZ General Manager Matt Claridge stated this week "the need for attention to be paid to regional New Zealand in terms of water safety education has never been more apparent, given the ongoing disproportionate representation in drowning incidents. New Zealanders drown in a diverse range of locations, acknowledgement of regional and/or demographic needs are important if ultimately there are to be greater gains made in reducing the drowning toll."
Recently released data for the six month period from January to June 2008 show there have been 55 drowning deaths in New Zealand with the West Coast, Wanganui, Manawatu and Hawkes Bay regions showing the highest drowning toll on a per capita basis (100,000 of population). At the same time last year there had been 56 fatal drownings.
Claridge adds "WSNZ have recognised this issue and established Regional Water Safety Strategy. The benefits of the Regional Strategy is becoming increasingly obvious as data analysis is refined along with identification of local issues. Essentially, working with the community to provide water safety solutions is a focus of WSNZ's Regional Water Safety Strategy."
The data shows rivers are the most represented environment for drowning incidents. There have been 22 drowning deaths thus far this year in comparison to the five year average (2003 to 2007) of 17.
Claridge concludes "recognition of the drowning issue is important to ensure appropriate support is received to educate New Zealanders. Ensuring sustainable and effective programs are implemented requires coordination and cooperation at a number of levels, the outcome of which should be children, well equipped with the skills to survive in the water."
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