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2018 Drowning Report

Drowning is defined as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death (fatal) or morbidity (non-fatal)"*.

In this report non-fatal drownings that result in a stay in hospital of 24 hours or longer are classified as ‘hospitalisations’.

In 2018 there were 66 recreational (intending to be in the water) and non-recreational (no intention of being in the water) preventable drowning fatalities.

The following analysis of these fatalities is based on the 66 incidents in 2018, which is a decrease of 25, or 27 percent, compared to the 91 preventable drowning fatalities in 2017.

23 additional fatalities have been classified as ‘other or non-preventable drownings’ (arising as a result of road or air accidents, homicide, suicide or of unknown origin).

Details about these fatalities are not included other than in the table at the end of this report.

There were 204 drowning related hospitalisations in 2018.

This is a 25 percent increase on 2017 and an 11 percent increase on the five year average of 181 (2013 – 2017).


*International Life Saving Federation, 2016

More detailed information is available on request or at

Data sourced from Water Safety New Zealand’s DrownBaseTM and the figures provided are provisional.


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