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HomeAus & NZCouncils urged to take proactive approach to water safety

Councils urged to take proactive approach to water safety

'Quick read' news summary

A life-guard organisation says local councils should be looking more closely into alternatives to avoid fatal drownings this summer.

According to the organisation Surf Life Saving, the number of people dying from drowning in New Zealand last summer was up 50 percent compared to the year before.

Chief executive Paul Dalton said, from Labour Weekend 2021 to Easter 2022, the organisation counted 18 deaths from drowning and the numbers were expected to rise heading to another hot summer.

“Last summer was pretty tragic for all types of drowning. A lot of those incidents happened in January, which was probably one of the worse months on record for New Zealand.”

It was pretty tough, he said.

“What we saw was a combination of the holiday period with some really good weather.

“If that weather pattern happens again this summer, when everybody is away on holidays, we will likely see some of those figures happening again, this is our fear really.”

New Zealand’s beach and coastal fatal drowning rates have increased over the last 5 years compared to the previous ones.

Dalton said New Zealand’s rates could drop if more initiatives were in place.

In some locations signage is definitely helpful, he said.

“More so in areas where they aren’t lifeguards. We are working with councils to get those warning sign protocols out there.”

In March 2022, Napier City Council was the first place in New Zealand to install rescue buoys in some of its beaches, after a 5-year-old drowned on Marine Parade.

The buoys are intended for “dry rescues”, which sees the floatation device thrown to the person in the water, enabling them to float while awaiting rescue by emergency services.

“We are working to make public rescue equipment available in more places,” Dalton said.

“If people see somebody in trouble, they can try help them, bring them back to shore, save a life.”

Dalton said

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