Northern surf patrols winding down as Autumn arrives
Monday-to-Friday visitors to Auckland, Waikato and Northland beaches over the last 30-plus summers have been able to swim and recreate under the watchful eye of Surf Life Saving Northern Region* (SLSNR) lifeguards, supported predominantly by local authority funding.
The weekday patrols by the regional paid lifeguards finished at most beaches in February, with just the major west coast beaches of Piha and Muriwai continuing into March and those beaches will cease weekday patrols for the season after 9 March. So far this summer SLSNR lifeguards have rescued more than 300 swimmers and completed over 74,500 hours of patrols.
SLSNR Operations Manager Adam Wooler says volunteer lifeguards will continue patrolling on weekends at high-usage locations till Easter Monday, 2 April. The exceptions are Ahipara, Pakiri, Red Beach, Long Bay, Wenderholm and Takapuna where weekend patrols finished up in February.
Weekend patrols at many beaches will also finish an hour earlier from this Saturday, 3 March. Patrols will end at 4pm this Saturday at Omaha, Mairangi Bay, Muriwai, Bethells and Kariaotahi, while the flags will go down at North and South Piha at 5pm and at 4.30pm at Karekare.
Wooler says surf clubs are expecting the beaches to remain popular through March. “Beach-goers are still very vocal about needing lifeguards to stay on longer than previously. Summer might be over in name, but going to the beach is still the number one recreation activity for thousands of people.”
Despite the busiest season in recent times, Wooler says there is no easing into Autumn for lifeguards or ‘burnout’ in the ranks. “Our vigilance doesn’t let up. The risks are still there and we’ll continue to urge people to act sensibly and responsibly at the beach.
“It’s particularly important that people take extra care late in the day when the lifeguards have taken down the flags, which will be an hour earlier than previously.”
1. SLSNR have 4 Beach safety messages these are;
• Be prepared; learn to swim and survive, always wear appropriate beach attire and be Sun Smart.
• Watch out for yourself and others; always swim between the flags, Keep children within arm’s reach.
• Be aware of the dangers; always read the safety signs and talk to the lifeguard for safety advice.
• Know your limits; never swim or surf alone
2. In 2016/17 SLSNR performed 299 Rescues, 881 First Aid Treatments and 98,628 Safety Interventions.
3. In 2016/17 SLSNR helped educate over 17,000 school aged children in Beach Safety.
*Surf Life Saving Northern Region encompasses 17 clubs, covering 22 beaches from Raglan north on the west coast around North Cape, and south to the Auckland City beaches.