'Don't think it won't happen to you': Powerful new video shares water safety message

The tragic drowning deaths of two toddlers was the inspration behind a new water safety video aimed at the rural community.

Ashburton irrigation schemes, Ashburton District Council, Water Safety New Zealand and local community members have come together to create the video, highlighting the need to be vigilant to prevent drownings of young children.

Water Safety NZ helped create the safety messages included in the video which were delivered by a range of local residents, including local farming families connected to irrigation schemes. 

Ashburton District Council filmed and produced the video. 

Chief executive of MHV Water Melanie Brooks said the idea to create the video came after two drowning tragedies.

"In January, a tragic drowning of a child occurred in a stock water race near Ashburton," she said.

"This followed the drowning in September of a small child in a stock water race in Rolleston in the nearby Selwyn district."

Water Safety New Zealand Ambassador Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
Water Safety New Zealand Ambassador Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Photo credit: Supplied.

She said as a co-operative, community safety was of upmost importance.  

"We have around 320km of water races in our scheme, effluent storage ponds, and many on farm storage ponds across our district," said Brooks.

"Drowning is an ever-present hazard, and we wanted to explore what we could do locally to help prevent further toddler drownings."

MHV contacted Water Safety New Zealand and the Ashburton District Council, which manages a large network of open water races. 

The organisations brainstormed options and brought two other irrigation schemes - Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation and Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation - into discussions. 

"We all wanted to create a video which shared some key safety messages for parents to help keep kids safe around waterways and water races."

Hayley Dampney with children Angus Dampney (2, front) and George Dampney (4,back) in the image from the safety video.
Hayley Dampney with children Angus Dampney (2, front) and George Dampney (4,back) in the image from the safety video. Photo credit: Supplied.

Two of the stars of the video are Mayfield pre-schoolers Angus and George Dampney. 

They live on a farm which has a water race close to their house, as well as duck ponds, irrigation and effluent ponds and an effluent wedge. 

Mother Hayley Dampney said the family is around water all the time. 

"Water safety is really important, and the danger it can pose to children needs to be taken seriously," she said.

Dampney said other children at the boys' pre-school have seen the video and the boys had learnt a lot about being safe around water through being involved in the video production

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive officer Jonty Mills said it was hoped the video would help educate those in rural areas.

"To parents and caregivers in our rural communities, the most important message is to actively supervise your children at all times around water or where potential water hazards are present," he said.

"Babies and toddlers need to be kept within arms-reach."

Mills says it's important to be aware of all water safety hazards on your property and your neighbours'. 

"Any body of water presents a danger. A toddler can drown in a puddle and it takes less than a minute."