Men told to learn to float this sum­mer


Men are four times more likely to drown than women, a statis­tic par­tially at­trib­uted to ‘‘un­der­es­ti­ma­tion of risk and over­es­ti­ma­tion of abil­ity’’, Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Auck­land says.

Across New Zealand, 88 men died from drown­ing in 2016. Six­ty­seven of those who drowned did so in pre­ventable cir­cum­stances, ac­cord­ing to par­ent-or­gan­i­sa­tion Wa­ter Safety New Zealand.

It is easy to be­lieve that learn­ing to swim will keep you safe in the wa­ter, Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Auck­land’s Bar­bara VenvilleGib­bons said, but safety re­lies on a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors.

‘‘Wa­ter safety is as much about good de­ci­sion mak­ing, knowledge, at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours as it is about phys­i­cal skills,’’ VenvilleGib­bons said.

Last year, 93 per cent of all drown­ing fa­tal­i­ties in the 15-25 year age-group were male.

‘‘We recog­nise that they are risk tak­ers, in­clined to suf­fer from their own bravado. We can­not and do not want to stop them, but en­cour­age them to do so safely.’’

Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Auck­land (for­merly WaterSafe Auck­land) is tar­get­ing young males in the lead-up to sum­mer with a so­cial me­dia cam­paign that sees eight Kiwi blokes take on the chal­lenge of learn­ing to float. North Har­bour Rugby rep­re­sen­ta­tives Fraser Con­way, Dy­lan Lam and Hauwai McGa­han joined Ri­ley Cole­man, Finn Turner, Jono Houzet, Ja­cob Cor­bett and Ben McNally-Burn in the cam­paign, Float with the Blokes.

Footage of the blokes learn­ing to float will fea­ture on Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion me­dia sites.

‘‘We hope that by shar­ing the in-wa­ter ex­pe­ri­ence of our eight Kiwi blokes, other blokes re­late to their ex­pe­ri­ence, and do some­thing dif­fer­ently next time which could just save their life,’’ Venville-Gib­bons said. Auck­land’s so­cial

By tak­ing the time to as­sess risks as­so­ci­ated with their ac­tiv­ity of choice, and their own level of com­pe­tency in var­i­ous en­vi­ron­ments and ac­tiv­i­ties, Venville-Gib­bons said men can avoid get­ting in to trou­ble in the wa­ter.

‘‘Peo­ple don’t drown be­cause they can’t swim, they drown be­cause they can’t keep their head above wa­ter. Float first of­fers a choice. Much like the old adage, ‘stop-think-then act’, float­ing first helps al­le­vi­ate panic, al­low­ing the per­son to keep their head above wa­ter, breathe and as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.’’

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