January 31, 2018
School pools key to drowning drop
Swimming lessons in schools and campaigns to make people aware of water dangers are on Water Safety New Zealand's wish list for bringing down preventable drownings.
There were 88 drownings last year, a 13 percent increase on the previous year.
Chief executive Jonty Mills says the percentage of those deaths who were Maori dropped from a quarter in 2016 to about 17 percent.
He says the population is growing and becoming more diverse, with many new immigrants unfamiliar with aquatic conditions such as rips.
There is also a decline in swim lessons in the schools.
"We need to ensure that all our kids have an inherent right to come out of the school system or out of the education system with broad foundational water safety skills so they can enjoy the water but can actually survive should they get into trouble" he says.
Jonty Mills also wants to see ongoing campaigns to change attitudes around water, as well as more support for front line responsers like surf lifesavers and coastguard.
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