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Jingle bells and boogie boards: Surf Life Saving’s guide to beach-safe Christmas gifts

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

With Black Friday kicking off the official start of the Christmas shopping season tomorrow, Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is asking Kiwis to consider beach safety when purchasing beach activity-based gifts.

The national charity has compiled a "shopping list" of common beach activity-themed gifts, along with tips for helping your whānau member enjoy their new hobby safely.

"Covid-19 travel restrictions mean many families are planning ‘staycations’ this summer and we’re anticipating some big numbers at many of our local beaches," says SLSNZ Chief Executive, Paul Dalton.

Dalton says beach activity gear can make for a great Christmas gift but that it’s important to keep your loved one’s safety top of mind when making a purchase.

"Our volunteer Surf Lifeguards know how fun beach-based activities can be…but they’re also acutely aware of how quickly things can go wrong," he says.

"It’s our goal to make sure Kiwis stay safe on our coastlines this summer and you can help by making sure your loved one is set up with the right knowledge and the right gear."

Surf Life Saving New Zealand Christmas Shopping List:

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP): If you’re gifting someone a SUP, make sure it comes with a leash that’s right for the conditions. Your loved one will need a different leash for SUPing in the surf, for instance, as opposed to SUPing in rivers or harbour mouths. While you’re at it, make sure they’re set up with a lifejacket or PFD (personal floatation device). Check out www.supsafe.nz for more info on how to pick the right leash, as well as other great SUP safety tips.

Is your loved one an experienced SUP user? If the answer is "no," then consider signing them up for a course as part of their gift too. New Zealand Stand Up Paddling offers inexpensive courses throughout the country.

Sea Kayak: Does your love one own a lifejacket or PFD (personal floatation device)? If not, definitely include one as part of their gift - it could save their life if they get into trouble on the water. They’ll need two forms of waterproof communication as well, such as a hand-held VHF radio, a PLB (personal locator beacon) or a cell phone in a waterproof lanyard bag. For more sea kayaking safety tips, check out the KASK (Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers) website.

If they’re new to sea kayaking, then consider signing them up for a course - or link them up with an experienced friend or family member who can show them the ropes.

Surf Board: Surfing New Zealand recommends lessons for first-time surfers, before choosing a board. Surfing lessons make a great gift. You’ll find a list of approved surf schools on the Surfing NZ website.

If you are buying a surfboard, get some advice at a surf shop to choose the best option for your loved one based on their age, size and level of surfing experience - and don’t forget a quality leash/leg-rope is essential for safe surfing.

Boogie Board: Is Santa getting the kids a boogie board for Christmas? Make sure he includes fins and an attached leash! A leash that’s attached to the boogie board means your child will have a flotation device if they get into difficulty in the water - and fins will give them extra kicking power so they can swim back to shore.

Fishing Gear: Is someone in your whānau keen to try rock fishing? If you’re looking at buying them the gear for Christmas, be sure to include a lifejacket - and make sure they wear it! This will help keep them afloat if they’re swept off the rocks.

Inflatable Pool Toys: This includes inflatable doughnuts, unicorns and flamingos, etc., as well as old-fashioned inner tubes and lilos…but the key word here is "pool." Every summer, volunteer Surf Lifeguards spend hours rescuing people who’ve been swept out to sea on inflatable pool toys. Even on the calmest of beaches, an off-shore breeze will sweep you out to sea very quickly. If Santa’s delivering an inflatable pool toy, please make sure it stays home when you head to the beach.

Sunscreen: Sunscreen makes a great stocking-stuffer! Just make sure it’s SPF30 or higher and look for AS/NZ 2604 standard on the label.

For more beach safety tips, visit SLSNZ’s Beach Safety Messages page, or check out the Safer Boating website.

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