Three people from the Wanganui and Rangitikei districts were among the 117 New Zealanders who drowned last year and Water Safety New Zealand wants to reduce those numbers.



Chief executive Matt Claridge said two people drowned in the Rangitikei District. One was a pre-school child in a Marton swimming pool and the other lost their life in still, inland water.



One person drowned in the Wanganui District - in a river.



This is the time of year when heat and free time impels droves of people toward the cooling waters of lakes, rivers and the sea - sometimes with fatal consequences. Last year 10 Kiwis drowned between 4pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on January 5.

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The 117 total for all of 2011 was unacceptably high, Mr Claridge said. It was 30 more people than the previous year, and 14 of those were pre-school children.



"Our drowning death toll has been in decline over the past two decades, but, tragically, this year the trend has reversed," Mr Claridge said.



Seven people drowned in the Manawatu-Wanganui region in 1010, five of those in the Wanganui district. One drowned in a swimming pool and four in rivers after road accidents.



People flocking to beaches, lakes and rivers were reminded to use common sense this summer.



"Wear lifejackets, check the weather forecast, stay within your limits, don't swim alone and avoid alcohol.



"It's not rocket science but it could save your life," Mr Claridge said.



He encouraged parents and caregivers to get into the water with children, keep them in sight and stay close enough to go to their help immediately.

TOP TIPS FOR WATER SAFETY

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  • Stop and think before entering the water

  • Keep children within sight and arm's reach

  • Alcohol and water activities don't mix

  • Swim and dive with a buddy

  • Check the marine forecast before boating

  • Wear a life jacket when boating

  • Stay within your swimming limits

  • Swim between the flags, if any

  • Check water depth before diving in

  • Learn to swim if you don't know how