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Holiday period over but beaches still busy for lifeguards


life guard SLSNZ-529It may be back to work and school for most Kiwis but lifeguards are expecting the country’s beaches to remain busy until Easter. 

With great summer weather drawing people to popular beaches, Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) CEO Matt Williams says new challenges continue to arise as lifeguards respond to a widening array of incidents in their mission to keep New Zealanders safe on the beach.

Williams notes the dual challenges the organisation continues to respond to led by annually increasing visitor numbers, and the increasing range of complex incidents.

“Since the start of the season 1,455 members of the public have needed immediate intervention from lifeguards and as a result 840 lives have being saved during the summer,” he says. 

Williams says that the focus for the rest of the season will remain with supporting lifeguards who are assisting the public in multiple ways on the beach and continuing to educate the public. 

Waitangi Day was particularly busy for volunteer lifeguards who carried out a large number of rescues in difficult and critical conditions. SLSNR worked with their emergency partners to perform 16 rescues with around 14,655 members of the public visiting beaches at one time. 

Williams says the different ways that people are getting into trouble demand a varied response from lifeguards.

“There is no consistent pattern of activity or behaviour that’s causing people harm. This makes it difficult to identify a behavioural trend to try and remove or reduce harm,” he says.

The summer so far has seen a number of tragic incidents with the total number of beach-related fatalities higher now compared to last year. 

“This season key SLSNR messages remain the same with the golden rule for the public being swim at a patrolled beach and swim between the flags.”

In a time when it is increasingly difficult to get key safety messages across, SLSNR is considering new ways to connect with youth to deliver key messages and attract new lifeguard talent through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.   

SLSNR Operations Manager Alan Gibson says he’d like to acknowledge the volunteers, regional staff and sponsors for their ongoing support this season. 

“We also encourage wider communities to join our organisation to help us save lives,” he says.

Volunteer lifeguard patrols will continue until April 22 and paid lifeguard services will continue throughout New Zealand beaches until March 8.

 Interested in volunteering for SLSNR and want to know more? Contact info@lifesaving.org.nz or your local club.
Beach Safety Checklist
 Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the flags. 
 Ask a lifeguard for advice. 
 Don't overestimate your ability. 
 Keep young children within arm’s reach at all times. 
 Never swim or surf alone. 
 Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore. 
 When fishing from rocks, always wear a lifejacket. 
 If in doubt, stay out! 
 If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for police.
 Be sun smart – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.

Volunteer lifeguard patrols will continue until April 22.

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