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Positive update in predictive modelling as the holiday period begins – Water Safety NZ

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) has some encouraging news to share as we head off on our summer holidays. The latest predictive modelling indicates a significant improvement in the outlook for 2023, showing a decrease in expected drowning fatalities.

The year-to-date total now stands at 86 fatalities, a considerable decrease from the earlier projection of 104 drownings by the year’s end.

The revised prediction now estimates a total of 92 drownings for 2023, a substantial reduction from the initial forecast of 104 in October. This update is hopefully testament to the effectiveness of increased safety messaging and public awareness campaigns, but most importantly Kiwis seem to be behaving better and making good choices. However, the risk of water-related accidents remains high. 

Daniel Gerrard, Chief Executive of Water Safety New Zealand, expresses cautious optimism. “While we are relieved to see a reduction in the projected number of drownings, we must not let our guard down. The model still predicts nearly one drowning per day. It’s essential that everyone continues to exercise utmost caution in and around water, especially during the remainder of this busy holiday season.”

There was a total of 9 preventable drownings during last years holiday period (4pm, 23 Dec-6am, 4 January). But the worst summer (1 December-28 February) total since 1997 with 49 preventable drownings. This year’s period begins from 4pm today, Friday 22 December and runs through until 6am on Wednesday 3 January.

– WSNZ emphasises the importance of wearing life jackets, maintaining boats properly, checking diving gear thoroughly, not heading out alone and assessing swimming skills realistically.

– The data from 2022, with 94 drownings, underlines the critical need for continued vigilance. Craft- related incidents and swimming were the most common causes of these tragedies. 

Gerrard adds, “We have seen a positive trend, but the situation is still serious. We implore all New Zealanders to stay vigilant and treat water with respect. We are incredibly privileged to live in a country where amazing beaches and waterways are everywhere…but we need to make sure we have the skills and knowledge to come home safely. Together, we can prevent these tragedies and ensure a safer holiday period for everyone.”

WSNZ, along with its national partners, continues to urge the nation to elevate awareness and take actionable steps to keep this year’s drowning numbers as low as possible.


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