Surf Lifesavers in the region are asking beachgoers to take extra care as patrols across the region conclude with the end of summer.
Whilst lifeguards are packing up the weather is expected to stay warm throughout March, and after what SLNZ is calling a “horrifically high” fatality rate in the water this year, lifeguards are asking New Zealanders to be extra vigilant.
The fear for drownings at unpatrolled beaches has basis. Among the many drowning deaths across the nation and region this summer none have occurred between red and yellow flags, according to SLNZ.
Lifeguards across the country have been on alert over the long, hot, busy summer. An early start to the warm weather saw packed beaches even before the start of patrol season on Labour Weekend.
Despite contending with Covid-19 restrictions lifeguard patrols have been maintained at all Surf Life Saving Clubs across the country - with 74 volunteer Surf Life Saving Clubs operational.
But the patrols which started on Labour Weekend are coming to an end in the Eastern Region in which the Bay of Plenty is included. Omanu, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club’s all ended their weekday patrols on February 25 – and weekend patrols will end at those same locations on March 27.
From tomorrow, there will be no weekday patrols across the Eastern region, with Hot Water Beach the last remaining club to wrap up operations Monday-Friday.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Eastern Region manager Avan Polo has highlighted the challenges lifesavers across the region have faced this summer.
“The Eastern Region lifeguards have done a fantastic job dealing with the challenging conditions this summer,” says Avan.
“Beaches across the Bay of Plenty were extremely busy following the lifting of the Auckland lockdown. Lifeguards also had to deal with a major cyclone and dangerous coastal conditions at many beaches.”
Data for the last ten years shows a staggering level of activity undertaken to keep people safe at the beach from SLNZ including; 11,364 rescues, 7866 assists, 1,136,315 preventative actions, 3397 searches and 24,163 first aid treatments.
While summer has officially ended and many weekday patrols have now ceased, lifeguards’ job is not completely over with meteorological reports predicting that higher than average temperatures will continue until Easter.
Many beaches still have volunteer lifeguards present on weekends over the next few weeks, some going right through until Easter and the Surf Life Saving Search and Rescue squads are on standby for callouts all year round.
“We want New Zealanders to continue to enjoy outings to the beach if this epic warm weather continues, but ask that they do it safely,” says Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton.
“Choose a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags. Please be cautious if you’re visiting a beach without lifeguards on patrol. Do your homework and check for the risks, don’t overestimate your abilities and if in doubt stay out of the water.”
Beachgoers can go to www.safeswim.org.nz to find out which beaches are patrolled and when lifeguards are on duty.
Beach Safety Messages
· Where possible, choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the flags. As the patrol season winds down check before you go if the beach is going to be patrolled, and take that into account in your planning
· Read and understand the safety signs – and if surf lifeguards are on patrol ask them for advice as conditions can change regularly
· Don’t overestimate your ability or your children’s ability to cope in the conditions
· Always keep a close eye on very young children in or near the water – always keep them within arm’s reach
· Get a friend to swim with you – never swim or surf alone
· Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore. If caught in a rip current remember the 3Rs: *Relax and float, *Raise your hand and *Ride the rip
· Be smart around rocks: When fishing never turn your back towards the sea and always wear a lifejacket
· If in doubt, stay out!
· If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for the Police
· Be sun smart – slip, slop, slap and wrap to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.
|Weekend Patrols||Weekday Patrols|
|Club||Start Date||End Date||Start Date||End Date|
|Bowentown Patrol Location||20-Dec||30-Jan||18-Dec||31-Jan|
|Hot Water Beach LS||23-Oct||17-Apr||6-Dec||4-Mar|
|Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Service||23-Oct||27-Mar||13-Dec||25-Feb|
|Ngati Porou SLSC||9-Jan||30-Jan|
|Ohope Campground Patrol Location||20-Dec||30-Jan||18-Dec||31-Jan|
|Pukehina Surf Rescue||11-Dec||27-Feb||24-Dec||21-Jan|
|Tolaga Bay SLSC||27-Nov||30-Jan||22-Dec||7-Jan|
|Waihi Beach LS||23-Oct||27-Mar||20-Dec||28-Jan|