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Nine drownings so far 2021

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Summer is the perfect time to get away with the family to the beach or the lake, but ACC is urging all Kiwis to take care around the water this weekend.

Data from Water Safety NZ shows there have been nine New Zealanders drown already in 2021, with one of those deaths occurring in the Bay of Plenty and four occurring in the Waikato.

The other four deaths were in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury and Otago.

Eight of the nine deaths were male, with three drownings happening at lakes, three at surf beaches, two at rivers, and one in a pond.

The death in the Bay of Plenty was a young girl who drowned at Lake Rotokawau.

ACC Injury prevention leader Kirsten Malpas says it is important to assess the risks and make smart decisions around water.

“We advise all Kiwis to choose a beach that is lifeguarded and to swim between the flags,” says Kirsten.

“It is tragic that there have been nine New Zealanders drown already in 2021, with four of those in the Waikato. We are urging all Kiwis to have safety front of their minds this weekend.

“Our data shows there are still far too many preventable injuries and deaths in and around the water.”

Drowning is the leading cause of death in recreational activities in Aotearoa. There were 74 drowning fatalities in 2020, down slightly from the 82 fatalities in 2019.

“A drowning is a devastating event for any whānau and community and these incidents are preventable,” says Kirsten.

In 2019, ACC helped 27,891 people recover from injuries in and around water.

That’s about 76 claims a day from people out enjoying activities like surfing, fishing and swimming.

Every year many New Zealanders get into trouble in rips – a body of water which is moving out to sea. The advice around getting out of rips is to follow the Three R’s Survival Plan.

“If you get caught in a rip, firstly RELAX and float to conserve your energy. Then RAISE your hand to signal for help, and thirdly RIDE the rip until it stops and you can swim back to shore or help arrives.”

ACC, Sport New Zealand and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board fund Water Safety New Zealand, who work with communities to reduce the incidence of drowning and injury in New Zealand.

The Water Skills for Life programme helps kids learn how to assess the risks and make smart decisions around water

In 2020, ACC helped over 200,000 children learn water safety skills. Since July 2017 there have been 757,242 tamariki complete the programme.

“We partner with Water Safety New Zealand on a range of injury prevention initiatives. These have been successful but there is always more work to be done. Knowing how to swim isn’t enough to save a life,” says Kirsten.

“It’s about teaching life-long water survival skills that cover a range of survival situations.”

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