'Culture change' needed toward water safety

  • 18/12/2015
'Culture change' needed toward water safety

People are being encouraged to think before they swim this summer.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge says a new safety campaign, launched in partnership with ACC, aims to get people thinking about the importance of water safety.

"It sounds simple, but if we can get New Zealanders to pause and think about how they will keep themselves safe before heading out on or around the water then were a large way towards driving a cultural change that makes water safety a priority," he says.

New Zealand ranks in the top four worst countries in the OECD for death by drowning. Already this year, 90 people have lost their lives, the same number as last year's total drownings and the high-risk Christmas holiday season is still to come.

Also, 180 others were hospitalised from a non-fatal drowning, 35 of whom were preschoolers.

Mr Claridge says men make up about 80 per cent of the total drowning toll, while too many preschoolers are losing their lives to drowning.

A Water Safety Sector Strategy 2020 has a goal of halving the male toll and reducing preschoolers to zero.

Drowning injuries cost ACC about $8 million a year.