As the country gears up for Labour Weekend, Surf Life Saving New Zealand is strongly encouraging people to be vigilant when heading to the beach.
SLSNZ CEO Paul Dalton says Labour Weekend is the first long weekend Kiwis have had since June and as we've now passed Daylight Savings, it's also an opportunity for many families to think about heading to our beaches.
Traditionally, the Surf Life Saving patrol season begins at Labour Weekend and continues through to Easter.
Clubs from the Far North to Raglan will begin their voluntary patrols next weekend and in other parts of the country, patrols will roll out across the Bay of Plenty and lower North over the next month and into the South from November as the warmer weather arrives.
Mr Dalton says Surf Life Saving is committed to making our national playground as safe as possible. "The beach is New Zealand's favourite playground but it can also be a dangerous place. Learning about the risks and preparing yourself will mean you can enjoy the sun, sea and sand safely this summer," he says.
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, around 1,200 people are rescued from life-threatening situations.
Mr Dalton says those planning their summer holidays during the coming months should take water safety into consideration when planning their beach destination.
"Make sure you are choosing a patrolled beach (details at www.findabeach.co.nz) where you can swim between the flags and feel safe in the knowledge there are highly skilled lifeguards on hand," he says.
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.
Surf Life Saving will officially be launching summer with a public event in Auckland in late November.
Save the Date:
For over 100 years, Surf Life Saving has been keeping people safe between the flags. However, Surf Life Saving is a charity as well as an essential rescue service that needs the public's support to raise money to help lifeguards save more lives on New Zealand's beaches this summer.
The annual Surf Life Saving Summer Appeal will take place from December 1, 2014- February 28, 2015. Keep an eye out on our website for more details around getting involved with the Summer Appeal.
How to help:
Text the word SURF to 849 to automatically donate $3 or click here to donate online.
Water Safety Tips:
• Find a beach that is patrolled- be prepared
• 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
• Watch out for that rip… rips are calm patches of water that can sometimes have waves breaking to the side. Rippled, discoloured or foamy water with debris can also mean there is a rip present.
• Be smart around rocks: Whether fishing or exploring at the beach, rocky outcrops can be very dangerous in large surf. When fishing, always wear a lifejacket. Never stand on a rock outcrop that is already wet (a sure sign waves will be washing over it) and always face the ocean; never turn your back on the sea.
Lisa Honeybone, Media & Communications Specialist,
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823