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Water Safety New Zealand has serious concerns about a lag in vital water safety skills in New Zealand primary school children.

Student achievement across 27 skills of Water Skills For Life is recorded in a national database and an analysis of the 1.7 million records has identified low levels of achievement across a number of floating and propulsion skills, including floating on your back for one minute and sculling for at least three minutes.

To rectify this crucial water safety deficit a combined effort is underway with our partners Swimming New Zealand and The Warehouse to get Water Skills for Life, the national standard for aquatic education for children in years 1 – 8 taught in every primary school across the country.

CEO Jonty Mills says these water safety skills are crucial for survival. “In 2017 accidental immersion incidents (where people ended up in the water when they had no intention of doing so) was the deadliest activity in terms of preventable fatal drownings. To survive an accidental fall into the water personal buoyancy and propulsion are essential to get out of trouble.”

The latest data from WSNZ’s Drownbase shows in 2017 15 – 24 year olds were the largest group of fatalities (alongside 65+) with 16 preventable* fatalities. A third of these were female (the highest female toll in that age group since 1983) and swimming was the prevalent activity. “This suggests too many children are going into their teenage years without the necessary skills needed to stay safe in the water, to assess risk and make smart decisions” says Mills.

WSNZ’s 2018 Attitudes & Behaviour survey revealed a third of people in New Zealand experienced a serious situation in the water, and continue to underestimate the danger posed by our waterways. Drowning is the leading cause of recreational death, the second highest cause of death for 1 – 24 year olds and the third highest cause of accidental death.

Our drowning rate per capita is twice that of Australia and four times that of the UK. Water Safety New Zealand believes aquatic education through Water Skills for Life is the best way to turn around our drowning problem.

“The programme was developed off the back of international research, best practice and water safety sector expertise” says Mills. “Water Skills for Life supported by The Warehouse, provides our children with valuable lifesaving skills for the real world so they can navigate New Zealand’s waterways safely. “

For more information please contact Ben Christie on 021770285 or ben@watersafety.org.nz

*Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an influence (for example where the victim was boating, swimming, diving) while non-preventable include events such as suicides, homicides and vehicle accidents (where water safety education and activity would not have prevented the death).

 

Water Skills For Life was developed for children in Years 1 - 8 to learn water safety. Based on 27 core skills, it establishes broad fundamental competencies for life-long water safety.

Children are taught Water Skills for Life at school, either by their school teacher in the school pool or community or by a swim teacher at a community pool. Schools can decide how they teach their students Water Skills For Life.

 

Click here for the directory to contact a Water Skills for Life instructor.
Click here for School Resources and Database User Guide

 

 

Drop in levels of vital water safety skills in primary schools

 
 
 

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Children learn these skills with Water Skills For Life

Click on each link to read about what's involved with each activity.

Water safety and awareness skills
  • Recognise an emergency for yourself or others. Know who to call for help and how
  • Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risks around the home, farm and around pools
  • Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risk in natural environments such as at the beach, offshore, river or lake.
  • Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risks for water activities such as swimming, water sports and boating
  • Know how and why t make safe decisions for yourself and others
  • Know how to recognise hypothermia and how to treat it
Getting in and out of the water
  • Get in and out of the water safely in any environment.
  • Perform this sequence with a buddy watching: check the depth of the water, check that the area is safe, jump into deep water, float on back for 1 minute to control breathing, return to edge and exit
Going under the water - Submersion
  • Get under water, open eyes and control breathing
  • Pick up an object from under the water
  • Dive from a horizontal position in the water and move underwater for a slow count to five
Floating on the water - Personal Buoyancy
  • Float, then regain feet
  • Control breathing while floating on back for at least 1 minute
  • Scull head-first and/or scull feet first for at least 3 minutes
  • Tread water for at least 3 minutes in deep water
  • Perform this sequence in deep water: correctly fit a lifejacket then tread water, scull, float or a mixture for 3 minutes while controlling breathing. Then return to edge and get out of the water
  • Perform this sequence for five minutes: signal for help while treading water, sculling, floating, or a mixture, and while controlling breathing
Rolling and turning in the water - Orientation
  • Horizontal rotation (front to back and back to front)
  • Horizontal to vertical rotation and vice versa (front or back to upright and return)
  • Vertical rotation (half rotation and full rotation) around the body’s vertical axis
What to do in an emergency - Safety of self and others
  • Float and signal for help with and without a flotation aid
  • Do a reach rescue and a throw rescue with a buddy
  • Perform this sequence: correctly fit a lifejacket, do a step entry into deep water, float in the H.E.L.P. position, then with a couple of buddies or a group form a huddle, return to edge and get out
Moving through the water - Propulsion
  • Move 15m non-stop, using any form of propulsion
  • Move through the water environments of all kinds (currents, waves, depth – in situ or simulated)
  • Move 50m and/or 3 minutes non-stop, confidently and competently – using any form of propulsion on their side, front, back, or a mixture
  • Move 100m and/or 5 minutes non-stop, confidently and competently – using any form of propulsion on their side, front, back, or a mixture

 

 

Click here for the directory to contact a Water Skills for Life instructor.

 
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