Kiwi blokes encouraged to learn to float to reduce drownings
Men are four times more likely to drown than women, a statistic partially attributed to "underestimation of risk and overestimation of ability", Drowning Prevention Auckland says.
Across New Zealand, 88 men died from drowning in 2016. 67 of those who drowned did so in preventable circumstances, according to parent-organisation Water Safety New Zealand.
It is easy to believe that learning to swim will keep you safe in the water, Drowning Prevention Auckland's Barbara Venville-Gibbons said, but safety relies on a combination of factors.
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"Water safety is as much about good decision making, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours as it is about physical skills," Venville-Gibbons said.
Last year, 93 per cent of all drowning fatalities in the 15-25 year age-group were male.
"We recognise that they are risk takers, inclined to suffer from their own bravado. We cannot and do not want to stop them, but encourage them to do so safely."
Drowning Prevention Auckland (formerly WaterSafe Auckland) is targeting young males in the lead-up to summer with a social media campaign that sees eight Kiwi blokes take on the challenge of learning to float.
The message is not about learning to swim, but rather, learning to float - which is enough to save your life.
North Harbour Rugby representatives Fraser Conway, Dylan Lam and Hauwai McGahan joined Riley Coleman, Finn Turner, Jono Houzet, Jacob Corbett and Ben McNally-Burn in the campaign, Float with the Blokes.
Footage of the blokes learning to float with instructor Harry Aonga will be released on Drowning Prevention Auckland's social media sites.
"We hope that by sharing the in-water experience of our eight Kiwi blokes, other blokes relate to their experience, and do something differently next time which could just save their life," Venville-Gibbons said.
Swimming is the most common activity that led to preventable drowning, but the men who drowned in 2016 were involved in 16 different activities on the water.
By taking the time to assess risks associated with their activity of choice, and their own level of competency in various environments and activities, Venville-Gibbons said men can avoid getting in to trouble in the water.
"People don't drown because they can't swim, they drown because they can't keep their head above water," Venville-Gibbons said.
"Float first offers a choice. Much like the old adage, 'stop-think-then act', floating first helps alleviate panic, allowing the person to keep their head above water, breathe and assess the situation."