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Call for zero drowning toll

Christmas a high-risk time

Last updated 13:05 23/12/2012
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BE WATERWISE: The official Christmas holiday week is historically a high-risk time.

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Water Safety New Zealand is calling for a zero drowning toll this Christmas holiday period.

On average 10 people drown in New Zealand waters each official Christmas holiday period - which this year runs from 4pm Christmas Eve to 6am on January 3. Last year, nine people lost their lives in the water during this time.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge said the official Christmas holiday week - when people flock to rivers, lakes and beaches around the country - is historically a high-risk time.

"A greater number of people taking part in water based activity results in higher risk and more incidents, but if everyone makes safety a priority and remembers the basics - wear life jackets, keep kids within arm's reach, know your limits and don't drink alcohol when taking part in water based activity- then a zero toll is achievable."

Fishermen were over-represented in 2011's Christmas holiday toll with four men drowning while fishing and Claridge said that should be a reminder to others.

"It doesn't matter whether you're fly fishing in rivers, casting off rocks, or out in a boat, the safety requirements are the same. Take a mate, check the marine weather forecast and always wear a life jacket."

Claridge said 86 people drowned in our waters this year and while the number was down on the same time last year,  he said it was still too high.

"New Zealand has one of the worst drowning tolls in the developed world. This is a nationwide problem that everyone needs to play a part in solving. If everyone is prepared, knows their limits and keeps an eye on their friends and family in and around the water, we can reverse the trend."

Claridge said he hoped to be announcing a zero drowning toll come January 3, but for that to happen he needed the help of all New Zealanders. 

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- The Press

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