SLS Patrol Season Winds DownFriday, 5 April 2013
With Easter marking the official end to the Surf Life Saving patrol season, lifeguards are urging Kiwis to be cautious at unpatrolled beaches as the sunny weather is predicted to continue for weeks.
Surf Life Saving NZ programmes and services general manager Brett Sullivan says this season has been the busiest for a couple of years as a result of fine weather across most of the country. "We're experiencing what feels like an endless summer and so people are likely to keep going to the beach for a few weeks to come yet," he says.
Selected clubs are choosing to extend their patrols on a case-by-case basis as a result of high visitor numbers, particularly at beaches in the Northern Region. "While our clubs have officially stopped patrolling, many of them will look at the conditions and decide they could put up the flags on any given day," says Mr Sullivan.
So far this summer, Surf Lifeguards have rescued over 1600 people nationwide and spent around 200,000 hours patrolling around 80 beaches. They have also undertaken around 2000 first aid treatments, 580 searches and 360,000 preventative actions.
Mr Sullivan says our statistics show that many of the rescues this season have taken place outside of patrol hours and outside of the flagged area. "We're also seeing consistencies in drowning incidents where people are wearing inappropriate clothing and are unaware of hazardous surf conditions and rips. We're constantly working towards lowering New Zealand's high drowning rate and we ask people to take responsibility for their own safety when around water, especially as patrols wind down, he says.
When swimming at an unpatrolled beach, Surf Life Saving New Zealand encourages beach goers to adhere to a few simple rules. Be prepared, watch out for yourself and others, be aware of the dangers and know your limits.
The Surf Life Saving season typically begins at Labour weekend and runs through to Easter.
For more information on Surf Life Saving's safety messages visit www.surflifesaving.org.nz.