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December 20, 2013

West Coast DHB reminding people to keep safe while swimming these holidays

Splash into summer, but keep it safe. That's the message from the West Coast DHB this holiday season.

Dr John Garrett, West Coast DHB Paediatrician and local chair of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Group says when its warm and children head outdoors, they need more supervision, especially around water.

“In the 1-14 year age group, in New Zealand drowning is the second leading cause of death after motor vehicle accidents.”

Dr Garrett says that could be a child falling into a swimming pool, or a youth falling off a bridge into a river.

“While the number of drownings is decreasing by just over four percent a year, given the enormous social and economic cost of drowning and the preventable nature of these deaths, we need to stay vigilant.”

Dr Garrett says there are some simple precautions that can help prevent a holiday tragedy.

  • Always swim between the flags on supervised beaches.
  • Keep young children within arm’s reach.
  • Children need sober caregivers to supervise them.
  • When boating, always wear a lifejacket and ensure all children are wearing lifejackets suitable for their age.
  • Take care swimming in rivers and always check the strength of the current before entering.

There are also some simple precautions to take following heavy rain.

  • Avoid rivers and lakes for three days - especially if the water is murky.
  • Avoid rivers and lakes if there are livestock or large numbers of birds in or near the water.
  • Only enter water if you can see your feet when standing knee deep

For some more really useful information visit the Water Safety New Zealand website www.watersafety.org.nz.

The West Coast DHB wishes you a safe and happy summer holiday.

- Ends-

For more information please contact:

Louise McLean
PA to Director of Nursing & Midwifery and Acting GM Hospital Services
t: (03) 769 7887
Corporate Office | West Coast District Health Board | Grey Base Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth 7840

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