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Drowning Season About To Commence?

The run into this summers annual drowning toll is well on the way. With large numbers flocking back to the boat and onto the water for a number of reasons, November recorded 10 drownings for the month.On a positive note, the low drownings for 2004 are continuing, with the current calendar year to the end of November 2004 recording 98 drownings compared with the average of 120 over the past 10 years.

Despite the lower drownings there are some prominent trends emerging through 2004, evidenced by power boating drownings being the lowest since 1997 for the year to date. On the other hand there has been a dramatic and disturbing increase in the number of drownings involving kayakers, with 6 in total in 2004.

"Numbers of kayakers are increasing due to more awareness of this fun activity and the relative ease with which people can gain access to the required equipment. Unfortunately many of those people getting involved do not have the required knowledge and skills to be able to participate safely", explains Mr Muir.

For the second year in a row, recreational drownings are above those of non-recreational. This tells us that New Zealanders are still making a decision to enter the water at times they shouldn't and not taking on board all the necessary safety precautions.

Chief Executive of Water Safety New Zealand, Alan Muir stated "as the summer holiday break gets closer and closer, there is still apprehension over the legitimate concern it provides. Popular pastimes like swimming at the beach or river are a lot of fun, but with the mass exodus to these bathing areas we see people make silly decisions that cost either their or the life of a loved one".

Muir continues, "in the past two weeks I have seen a noted increase in the volume of headlines in the daily papers reporting on 'near misses'. In many cases it is only by chance that another drowning tragedy has been a avoided - Don't Leave Your Safety to Luck - everyone's luck runs out sometime."
"Lifeguards rescue six"
"Yachtie rescued"
"Rescuers hoist kayaker to safety"
"Boaties rescued"
"Man saves mum from drowning river"
"Wedding interrupted as child rescued from sea"
"Lake rescue an award winning tale"

The above "near misses" are just some of the headlines in water incidence reported in major papers across New Zealand in the last two weeks. The upsurge in 'near misses' will soon be replaced by an increase in 'drowning' headlines as the predictable summer season encroaches on us.

Muir notes "summer is about being in, on or under the water, it's the way New Zealanders like to spend their summer ... in turn we want people to be aware of potential dangers and ask for help if necessary, otherwise, if in doubt, stay out!"

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