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Latest beach drowning prompts message from lifesaving CEO - Surf Lifesaving

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The recent drowning at Bethells highlights the inherent dangers of beaches on Auckland’s West Coast and the risk of entering the water while not prepared, says Surf Life Saving Northern Region.

The organisation’s rescue operations centre SurfCom was notified yesterday by a member of the public to the incident just before 3:40pm.

The Bethells Search and Rescue Squad was activated and responded with two IRBs. The patient was located in the water and returned to shore where CPR was performed before the man was declared dead.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region Chief Executive Matt Williams says it’s a tragedy.

"Our hearts go out to the friends and whānau of this man. No-one expects a trip to the beach will end up like this, and it really just highlights how important it is that people know their limits and not to underestimate the conditions.

"At a beach like Bethells even the shallows can be dangerous, a single wave can quickly change the depth from knee height to chest height and sweep you out to sea.

"Bethells is also a surf beach and rips are common so beware. If you’re in doubt about the conditions, please stay away from the water."

Williams says the best thing to do if you get stuck in a rip is relax, raise your hand and ride the rip.

"Don’t panic and try to swim against the current, lie on your back and float to conserve energy and put your hand straight up in the air to signal you need help." If you’re not confident in your ability to float or do this, it may not be safe for you to swim at a non-lifeguarded beach.

Weekday patrols at Bethells don’t start until 6 December, while Muriwai and Piha start a week earlier on 29 November.

Williams says until then, if you do see someone in trouble in the water the best thing to do is call 111 and ask for Police.

"The Police have a direct line to activate our Search and Rescue squads, which are available 24/7 to come and assist.

"If you are a bystander, it’s important to consider your own safety first and foremost. If possible provide a flotation device to the patient as this will interrupt the drowning process for rescue to take place. Flotation items could include a ball, bottle or life ring."

A full list of key beach safety messages can be found here.

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