Seven people drowned in New Zealand waters this official Christmas holiday period (4pm Christmas Eve until 6am this morning) – two deaths more than the same period last year.
Water Safety New Zealand CEO Matt Claridge says it’s a huge disappointment that the drowning toll is so high.
“Anything other than zero would have been a disappointing result but for the number of drownings to be more than last year’s festive period – and to include a pre-schooler – is gut wrenching.”
Six of the drownings were men – the seventh was a one-year-old baby girl who drowned in a temporary home pool on Christmas Day.
Two of the men drowned when their fishing boat was swamped while crossing a harbour bar in Auckland, a third got into trouble while setting crab pots in Northland. Two others drowned while swimming – one at Northland’s 90 mile beach and another in the Patea River near Taranaki. The other drowning occurred when an intoxicated male entered the water at New Brighton beach in Christchurch.
Mr Claridge says the widespread hot weather is likely a factor in the increase, with more people out and about enjoying the water, but that just reinforces the need for everyone to think about water safety.
“Summer still has a long way to go so when you’re preparing for your day out at the beach, lake or river, take a moment to consider how you’ll keep yourself – and friends and family – safe. Especially young children who are unable to look after themselves.”
With two of the seven deaths so far occurring in 2015, Matt Claridge says the year is off to a tragic start.
“Two families are already without a loved one and we’re less than a week into the New Year. There’s a whole community of people – from Coastguard to Surf Lifeguards, Maritime Officers and many more – working hard to keep New Zealanders safe as they enjoy our incredible waterways. But we can’t do it alone. We need all New Zealanders to make water safety a priority today if we’re to bring our horrific drowning toll down to zero.”