Traffic light-themed water safety campaign launches


Water Safety New Zealand has drawn inspiration from traffic lights as part of its new Stop and Think water safety campaign.

New Zealand is one of the worst countries in the OECD when it comes to drownings.

Red for stop and green for go is a simple concept most of people are familiar with. It's those traffic light road rules, and ice blocks, now being used to promote water safety.

"The traffic light campaign has a simple message [and] that's stop and think before you go near the water this summer," Matt Claridge, Water Safety NZ CEO says.

Whether it's at the beach, on the boat, or by a river, most Kiwis will be looking to cool off over the summer months.

But it's how we handle ourselves in the water that has safety campaigners concerned.

"Wear a life jacket when you're on a boat," Mr Claridge says. "It's just no good stowed away. And if you've got kids near water you've got to supervise them – it's your responsibility."

The numbers speak volumes – 90 people have drowned so far this year and 75 percent of those could've been prevented, while 180 were hospitalised, including 35 preschoolers.

But it's men who make up more than 80 percent of drownings.

"It's generally because they overestimate how capable they are, and underestimate the risk," says Mr Claridge. "To be honest it's blokes day in and day out over summer that'll do something stupid that ends up being a highly regrettable tragedy for a family."

ACC has also hopped on board the campaign, with drowning injuries currently costing the taxpayer around $8 million a year.

"Any drowning is something that can be prevented and that's really important for us," says ACC CEO Scott Pickering.

"So whilst there is a cost associated with drowning, there's also an issue from a social perspective and that's one of the reason we are really interested and committed to investing in these prevention messages. "

Water Safety NZ and ACC are hopeful that splashing the message across the country will help keep Kiwis afloat.

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