Surf Life Saving encourages beach-goers to be vigilant this Christmas

Posted by SLSNZ Media on Monday, December 23, 2013

As the country gears up for the Christmas holidays, Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is reminding people to be vigilant over what is expected to be another bumper season.

SLSNZ CEO Paul Dalton says often the Christmas holidays are the first chance people get to start heading to our beaches. "Naturally, in response to the warm weather and as people take time out from school and work, visitor numbers increase which in turn increases the risk of people getting into trouble on our beaches," he says.

Mr Dalton says many of the rescues last season took 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 ask that people know their limits and swim between the flags at one of our many patrolled beaches these holidays- and always," he says.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand is the national association representing 73 Surf Life Saving Clubs in New Zealand.

This season around 4,000 volunteer lifeguards will spend over 200,000 hours keeping a watchful eye on over 80 beaches throughout the country, helping to make them a safer place for Kiwis and their families to enjoy their summer.

During an average season, over 1,200 people are rescued from life-threatening situations. Last year that number was over 1,600.

For over 100 years, Surf Life Saving has kept people safe between the flags. As a charity, the public's donations have helped make that possible.

The Surf Life Saving Summer Appeal is on now and runs through until February 2, 2014 including a national street collection on January 31, 2014.

Surf Life Saving is an essential rescue service as well as a charity that needs the public's support to raise money to help lifeguards save more lives on New Zealand's beaches this summer.

Text 'SURF' to 933 to automatically donate $3 or visit www.surflifesaving.org.nz/supportus to make a donation online.

Key safety tips this summer:

• Find a beach that is patrolled- be prepared (www.findabeach.co.nz)
• Listen to the advice of lifeguards
• Always keep an eye on children in the water
• Get a friend to swim with you- never swim or surf alone
• Stay between the flags and
• Watch out for that rip… rips are calm patches of water that can sometimes have waves breaking to the side. Ripple, discoloured or foamy water with debris can also mean there is a rip present.

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Photo courtesy of Surf Life Saving Australia.

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Honeybone, Media & Communications Specialist, SLSNZ
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823
Email lisa.honeybone@surflifesaving.org.nz

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