Pilot launched to prevent drownings

In 2020, there were 74 preventable fatal drownings and four of those were aged under-five. File photo.

A water safety initiative is being piloted to empower whānau to deliver lifesaving water safety skills to their young tamariki.

SplashSave and Water Safety New Zealand are engaging with community groups to find influencers who will take on the role of delivering water safety education in their communities.

Teaching Kaiako, parents and grandparents to teach their whanau these critical skills will mean the safe enjoyment of playing in the water in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

“Every year in New Zealand too many people drown off our shorelines, in our rivers and lakes, and at home,” says ESNZ CEO Daniel Gerrard.

“In New Zealand, drowning is the leading cause of recreational death and the third highest cause of accidental death.”

In 2020, there were 74 preventable fatal drownings and four of those were aged under-five. Between 2010 and 2020 58 under-fives lost their lives in preventable incidents. Families and communities left devastated.

“With a fatal drowning rate of 1.62 per 100,000 people, New Zealand is at the higher end of OECD countries,” says Gerrard.

“ACC spends more than $72 million a year on water-related injuries and there are on average approximately 190 hospitalisations each year from drowning related incidents.

“This program is a great opportunity to give our whanau the skills and knowledge they need to educate our tamariki about staying safe in the water. This is about reconnecting Māori with wai with which Māori have a deep spiritual connection,” says WSNZ Kaihautū Rob Hewitt.

The Water Safety Sector recently released Water Safety Sector Strategy 2025 – Wai Ora Aotearoa and one of the key priorities in this strategy is providing improved water safety outcomes for the under-five cohort.

“While constant active adult supervision around water is the key safety message for under-fives SplashSave supported by Water Safety New Zealand has created a parent pack and a program that will give all parents in New Zealand the confidence to teach their own child basic water safety skills,” says SplashSave spokesperson Phil Waggott.

“By instilling basic skills such as floating from an early age, children become more confident as they progress through their water safety education.

“These fundamentals enable children to confidently tackle the more complex skills in the Water Skills for Life program and able to enjoy the water safely for the rest of their life and ultimately lowering the high drowning toll in New Zealand.”



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