The following are appendixes to this media release:
▪ Aggregated Patrol Statistics (national) ▪ Weekend Patrol Statistics (individual regions)
It has been a busy weekend for surf lifeguards across many parts of the country as beaches become busier ahead of the start of summer. Over the weekend, surf lifeguards spent more than 4,031 hours volunteering to keep thousands of swimmers and beachgoers safe, performing four rescues and three assists, as well as conducting more than 260 preventative actions.
Steve Fisher, SLSNZ CEO, says that the actions of volunteer surf lifeguards in performing preventative actions is a key tool, and part of Surf Life Saving’s objective to intervene early and stop a situation from escalating. Examples of preventative actions could include approaching swimmers outside the red and yellow flags to reiterate safety messages, placing signs to warn beach users of dangerous currents, and talking to first time beach users about the safety of swimming between the flags.
“We saw four rescues over the weekend, by all accounts some of them in quite difficult conditions, with large swells and lots of water moving on the west coast of the North Island.
“We saw large numbers of beachgoers throughout the country, and things are really beginning to pick up ahead of our first summer patrols next weekend,” he says.
“Overall, people were well-behaved and aware of the many dangers around our coastlines. We are glad that our safety messages are getting through and our surf lifeguards continue to remain vigilant in performing preventative actions that stop situations worsening and becoming an incident that may require rescue, or which could have tragic consequences.”
Last week also saw the commencement of Paid Lifeguard Service (PLS) weekday patrols in Northern Region, with patrols at Muriwai and Piha. The week passed without incident, with two minor first aids performed and 204 preventative actions taken. Paid lifeguarding services will also commence at Raglan, Kariaotahi, North Piha, and Bethells Beach from today.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) General Manager Zac Franich says that the PLS has been able to extend its patrol period at some locations this year thanks to an increase in funding from Auckland Council’s Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board.
“The PLS is an important part of our operations over summer and augment our volunteer surf lifesaving patrols by providing coverage throughout the week and where volunteer patrols do not exist.
“The ability to extend the reach of our PLS patrols in terms of length, as well as to two new locations – Te Arai and Tawharanui – means we will be able to reduce the drowning risk along more of our coastline,” he says.
2023-2024 Season Beach Safety Messages from SLSNZ:
1. Know How To Float
If you don’t know how to float, don’t go into the water.
Just being able to float when you are in the water can increase your chance of survival. Floating allows you to calm yourself and keep your airways out of the water. It is also the first thing to do if you get caught in a rip.
If you don’t know how to float well, practice or get some lessons in a pool before you head to the beach – being able to float is a key skill when learning to swim. Anyone can learn to float but some people may take a little longer to learn.
2. Find The Safest Place To Swim
Remember if you are heading to the beach, check www.safeswim.org.nz to find a lifeguarded beach, and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which show the safest place to swim. The surf lifeguards are there to help keep beachgoers safe, by keeping a constant eye on sea as they continuously scan for hazards or people in difficulty, keeping on top of weather forecasts and understanding the swell and tide conditions too.
3. If In Doubt, Stay Out
Waves can be bigger than they look, dangerous rip currents are hard to spot and weather conditions can be unpredictable. If you feel uncomfortable about getting into the water, stay out. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Too many people get into trouble in the water because they overestimate their abilities and underestimate the conditions.
4. Take Care of Others
Always keep children within arm’s reach in or near the water. Waves can move quickly and unexpectedly and can knock kids off their feet and sweep them away. Everyone has different levels of ability, so watch out for your mates too.
5. Know How to Get Help
If someone in the water is in trouble and surf lifeguards are on patrol, let them know. If you can’t see any surf lifeguards, call 111 and ask for police. Police have a direct line to surf lifeguards and others who can help.
If you’re in the water and in trouble yourself, signal for help.