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Surf Life Saving Northern Region Says Beach Safety Message Does Not Seem To Be Getting Through To Public

Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) Chief Executive Matt Williams says the organisation’s beach safety messages and call for common sense don’t seem to be getting through to the public, after a boat capsized in large surf off Manu Bay in Raglan early on Sunday morning.

Lifeguards immediately responded to the incident, and attended to the three men. One person was seriously injured and transported to Waikato Hospital. SLSNR fears the outcomes would be much worse had lifeguards not been there to respond so quickly.

Northern Region’s west coast beaches saw heavy rain large surf, bluebottles, surging waves and extremely large currents dampen beach activity, however Matt Williams said as opposed to people taking the conditions into account before using the coastline, they continued to take risks. He emphasised it was up to the public to take the first step in keeping themselves safe.

“Surf lifeguards are simply are not, nor have they ever been resourced to be a substitute for the public’s common sense. We need the public to work with us to ensure we have a safe and happy summer, free of last year’s drowning tragedies on our beaches. The last thing we want is to be unable to respond to a serious emergency situation as we are off tending to someone’s else lack of judgement.”

“Beach education is a huge focus for us, and issues like today challenge the notion that our core safety messages are getting through. That in itself is a difficult notion as it suggests we as a people may no longer be as proficient as we have been, or have been making out in keeping ourselves safe on the coastline” he said.

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“Logic dictates that the incident on Sunday could have been easily avoided if the boat users had recognised the apparent poor conditions and reconsidered. If in doubt, don’t go out – no catch or day on the water is worth you or your mates’ lives, full stop.”

Williams stressed that the public needed to exercise common sense: “These guys are incredibly lucky. For your own sake, and for the sake of your families and whānau in the lead-up to the summer break, please make safe decisions,” he said.

“Recognise your limits and stay within them, learn how to recognise rip currents, be smart around rocks and large surf, and never, ever swim or surf alone. And if you’re at a patrolled beach, always swim between the flags.

“Surf lifeguards are here to keep you safe, and to help you keep yourself safe. The more we work together, the better the summer will be.”

Key Labour Weekend Patrol Statistics:

Saturday 10 December patrol statistics:

No. of people rescued1
No. of people assisted0
No. of major first aids0
No. of minor first aids3
No. of searches0
No. of preventatives4
Peak head count 
No. of hours worked1052

Sunday 11 December patrol statistics:

No. of people rescued0
No. of people assisted0
No. of major first aids0
No. of minor first aids2
No. of searches0
No. of preventatives48
Peak head count1429
No. of hours worked914

Aggregated Patrol Statistics (10-11 December):

No. of people rescued2
No. of people assisted2
No. of major first aids1
No. of minor first aids10
No. of searches0
No. of preventatives316
Peak head count5584
No. of hours worked1,966

2023 Season Beach Safety Messages from Surf Lifesaving Northern Region:

§ Choose a surf lifeguard patrolled beach and swim between the flags

§ Read and understand the safety signs – ask a surf lifeguard 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.

© Scoop Media

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