New Zealand has one of the highest fatal drowning rates in the OECD1. This report is our way of drawing a line in the sand. We, Surf Life Saving New Zealand, are saying “enough is enough”. No more unnecessary deaths from drowning on our beaches and along our coastline.
NON-FATAL DROWNING OVERVIEW 10-YEAR OVERVIEW | 2009-19 COMPARISON OF NON-FATAL AND FATAL DROWNINGS ON NEW ZEALAND BEACHES BETWEEN 2009-19 The focus of drowning prevention research has long been on fatal drowning. However, this is only part of the total drowning toll. Non-fatal drowning incidents are more difficult to quantify but are still significant and can often result in life-changing injuries and illnesses. The social cost to New Zealand of one severe water-related injury resulting in hospitalisation has been estimated at $472,900 (WSNZ, 2019). Between 2009 and 2019, there were 253 cases of nonfatal drownings recorded on beaches, representing an average of 25 non-fatal beach drowning cases per year. For this report, we have assumed beach specific non-fatal data includes both surf and calm water beach types. *The non-fatal drowning data used in this report is based on hospital stays of at least 24 hours and has been provided by WSNZ’s as recorded in DrownBase. A large amount of environmental coding is set to ‘large body of water’ which does not allow for more specific data breakdown. There are likely more non-fatal cases that have occurred within the coastal environment; however, due to the hospital coding limitations highlighted above, many cases are indeterminable at this stage. To calculate the ratio of fatal to non-fatal drowning incidents, the total number (n=136*) of fatal beach drowning incidents (surf beach and calm water beach) was compared with the total number of non-fatal beach incidents (n=253). The average ratio of fatal to non-fatal drowning incidents from 2009-19 is 1:1.86. This figure indicates that for every fatal beach drowning, there are 1.86 non-fatal beach TOTAL FATAL DROWNINGS drowning incidents. The rate is highly variable across age groups – children and young adolescences (0-14) show the highest ratio (1:15), which indicates that for every fatal beach drowning, there are 15 non-fatal drowning incidents. On the other end of the spectrum, the 55 – 64 age group represents the lowest ratio (1.28), indicating that for every fatal beach drowning death, there are 1.28 non-fatal drownings. TOTAL NON-FATAL DROWNINGS NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS 253 BETWEEN 2009-19 37% AVERAGE NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS 25 PER YEAR UNDER THE AGE OF 25 70% MALE 30% FEMALE 136 * 253 RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL 1 : 1.86 0-14 YEARS OLD RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL 1 : 15 55-64 YEARS OLD RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL 1 : 1.28 Figure 27 2009-19: Non-Fatal Drowning Incidents on <strong>Beach</strong>es by Year and Gender (n=253) Figure 28 2009-19: Fatal and Non-Fatal Drowning Incidents on <strong>Beach</strong>es by Year (n=389) Non-Fatal Drownings (n) 50 40 30 20 10 0 Female Male 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 Year Drownings (n) 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Non-Fatal Drownings Fatal Drownings 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 Year SURF LIFE SAVING NEW ZEALAND <strong>NATIONAL</strong> BEACH & COASTAL SAFETY REPORT SECTION FOUR NON-FATAL DROWNING ANALYSIS / 10 YEAR OVERVIEW 2009-19 34 35