'Preventable' holiday drownings a warning for beachgoers

'Preventable' holiday drownings a warning for beachgoers
Photo credit: Newshub.

With six fatal drownings over the holiday period, Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is warning Kiwis to take more care in the water. 

The "preventable" deaths show our oceans and rivers need to be treated with respect, says Jonty Mills, WSNZ chief executive.

"Every one of these preventable deaths is devastating for a family and a community and has real and profound impact on many people's lives," said Mills.

The six deaths occurred between 4pm on December 24 and 6am on January 3.

"It has also been another busy holiday period for our frontline services which indicates the toll could have easily been much worse," said Mills. "We are fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers keeping Kiwis and visitors safe in, on and around the water."

The total number of fatal drownings for 2019 has yet to be released, but in 2018 there were 66 deaths due to drowning. That was down from 91 the year before. 

"The toll reflects the complex nature of drowning in this country," Mills said. "Drowning is not one-dimensional. The numbers represent a wide range of age, activities and water environments."

This year's number was below the average for the holiday season, which is eight.

Mills urged beachgoers to swim between the flags where possible, watch out for rips and to wear lifejackets while fishing from rocks or while on a boat.