Jan. 22, 2019, 10:55 a.m.
With any body of water comes risk and sadly every year far too many people lose their lives or are injured in, on or around the water. The tragedy is that most drownings and injuries are preventable. Drowning is NZ’s third cause of accidental deaths after motor vehicle accidents and falling.
New Zealand has one of the highest fatal drowning rates in the OECD. In 2017 there were 92 preventable deaths. Each one comes with a human and financial cost. It's a life cut-short - often a young life - and it leaves families and communities devastated.
Our drowning toll is something every New Zealander should see as a national disgrace and one we all have a responsibility to address. - Water Safety NZ
Every year Northland’s beaches are a popular destination for holiday makers from all over the world. The isolation, no crowds and picturesque beauty of the beaches make them so popular.
Most of Northland’s coast is unmanned meaning that there are no lifeguards, whose priority it is to keep swimmers and beachgoers safe.
CEO of Water Safety NZ Jonty Mills acknowledges the efforts of Surf Lifesaving NZ, however, they cannot be everywhere 24 hours and 7 days a week. He advises that would be rescuers take time to alert someone or call 111 first then find some kind of floating device before attempting a rescue.
“Even though our beaches can be a very beautiful place to be, they can also be very treacherous. (In) Most cases of drownings it’s the rescuer that ends up in trouble due to an instinctive panic situation” said Mills.
Waipu Surf Lifesaving Club are on tour around some of Northland’s unmanned swimming spots to educate communities and beachgoers in water safety practices giving demonstrations with using a floatation device, irb’s or ribs, and CPR. Club Captain Kath Manning has some key messages to those heading to the beach this summer.
Know your limits, never swim alone, if in doubt don’t go out, survey the beach before you go out and if you get into trouble remember the 3 R’s:
2. Raise Your Hand
3. Ride The Rip