'Be careful near water' warn centralAlliance DHBs

11 December 2013
CentralAlliance DHBs are urging Whanganui and Manawatu residents to be careful when playing or working close to water this summer. Last year 33 people drowned in New Zealand during the summer months. Many of these tragedies occurred at beaches.

Health protection spokesperson for Whanganui and MidCentral DHBs, Bruce Butters says the key messages are:
  • Always swim between the flags and avoid rips at beaches.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you’re planning on swimming. And do not drink alcohol if supervising children near water, swimming, or boating. Alcohol can cloud judgment.
  • Keep young children within arm’s reach.
  • When boating, always wear a life jacket and ensure all children are wearing lifejackets suitable for their age.
  • Be careful when swimming in rivers. This includes making sure the river will not sweep you under logs or tree roots.
Mr Butters says following downpours people need to:
  • 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.
When the weather becomes unsettled, local swimming pools are often the best option for swimming but there are rules to follow:
  • Don’t go in the water if you’ve had diarrhoea (upset tummy) in the last two weeks.
  • Don’t let your child go in the water if he or she has had diarrhoea in the last two weeks.
  • Take children to the toilet before they swim and wash hands after going to the toilet.
  • Where possible shower yourself and your children before you put togs on. Use soap and warm water (especially in the area around your bottom).
  • Babies should wear approved swimming nappies because cloth and disposable nappies are not allowed at swimming pools. Pool staff can tell you if your nappies are approved.
  • Remember to wash your hands after changing your baby.
  • If you become aware of a faecal accident in the pool, get out of the pool (and get children out) and tell the pool staff immediately. Don’t get back into the water until the pool staff say you can.
Another hazard to watch for over summer is toxic algae. Horizons Regional Council not only monitors popular lakes and rivers on a weekly basis but it notifies the media to warn people against swimming or fishing where toxic algae is found. Mr Butters says if people see musty smelling, black slimy mat-like growths on river bed stones it is best that they (and their dog if they have one), don’t use the river.
The Horizons Regional Council website provides further information on swimming safety.

For more information please contact a health protection officer at the WDHB Public Health Unit - Ph 06 3481775 or email phuwang@midcentraldhb.govt.nz