Rise in number of older men drowning

8:19 am on 6 February 2016

Maritime New Zealand is worried at the large number of older men drowning in boating accidents.

dinghy/ life jackets

Photo: 123rf

Director Keith Manch said people under 30 were typically more prone to drowning in boating disasters, but recently older males were in danger as well.

People over 60 were less likely to ensure that child passengers wore a life jacket or wore one themselves, Mr Manch said.

"If you look at the fatalities from the previous year - 24 fatalities - nine of those were men 60 and over."

He said this was probably due to older people thinking they understood the risks at sea and did not need to take precautions because of their knowledge and experience.

"Of course that is nonsensical really because an accident can happen in a matter of seconds and a drowning in a matter of minutes.

"The difference between a close shave in the maritime context and a disaster can be a hair's breadth."

Of the 24 boating drownings in the last year, six were people under 30, 11 were between 30 and 59 and nine were 60 and over.

Maritime New Zealand spends $900,000 a year on boating safety measures and Mr Manch said the programme was being assessed to make sure it was inline with its statistics.