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Weekend Wrap: Surf Lifeguards Kept Busy With Rescues, Burnt Feet, And Packed Beaches

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is urging beachgoers to swim between the red and yellow flags following an incredibly busy weekend.

Surf lifeguards rescued 57 people on Saturday and Sunday, 33 of these in the Northern Region.

Steve Fisher, SLSNZ CEO, said, “December through to March is the busiest time for surf lifeguards as people enjoy New Zealand’s magnificent coastline. However, there are a number of things people must do to ensure they are safe, including checking to find a lifeguarded beach and swimming between the red and yellow flags, which is the safest place to be.”

According to NIWA, Auckland experienced its fifth-hottest day on record at the weekend. However, while the beach is a great place to cool down, beachgoers must make sure they are prepared for the hot conditions, including hot sand. On Saturday, surf lifeguards at Piha dealt with multiple people who suffered burns on their feet.

Fisher said, “Surf lifeguards are trained to deal with both minor and major first aids. While most of these burns were able to be dealt with relatively easily, one person did suffer deep and extensive burns which required assistance from Hato Hone St John. It’s a good reminder to always have the correct gear when heading to the beach, especially on black sand beaches. Footwear is a must.”

Surf lifeguards also noticed a high volume of beachgoers at the weekend. On Sunday, surf lifeguards recorded 3,000 people at Auckland’s Takapuna Beach, while on Saturday, surf lifeguards in Raglan recorded 4,500 beachgoers, many of them from music festival Soundsplash.

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Fisher said, “The surf lifeguards did a fantastic job of keeping watch over all those people. It’s not an easy job, and we appreciate the teamwork that goes into making sure beachgoers return home safely. It certainly requires effort from everyone – whether they’re at the water’s edge, in the tower, or in the club.”

With more sunshine and warm temperatures during the start of this week, and with Auckland, Northland, and Nelson Anniversaries coming up, SLSNZ is expecting more busy weekends ahead.

SLSNZ Beach and Coastal Safety Messages:

1. Know How To Float

If you don’t know how to float, don’t go into the water. Just being able to float when you are in the water can increase your chance of survival. Floating allows you to calm yourself and keep your airways out of the water. Practice or get some lessons in the pool before you head to the beach.

2. Find The Safest Place To Swim

Check to find a lifeguarded beach, and always swim between the red and yellow flags.

3. If In Doubt, Stay Out

Waves can be bigger than they look, and weather conditions can change quickly. If you feel uncomfortable about getting into the water, stay out.

4. Take Care of Others

Always keep children within arm’s reach in or near the water. Waves can move quickly and unexpectedly and can knock kids off their feet and sweep them away.

5. Know How to Get Help

If someone in the water is in trouble and surf lifeguards are on patrol, let them know. If you can’t see any surf lifeguards, call 111 and ask for police. If you’re in the water and in trouble yourself, signal for help.

Glossary of Terms:

Rescue: Where a person requires immediate help to return to shore (or place of safety) and who without intervention would have suffered distress, injury or drowning. They are unable to remove themselves from the situation by themselves.

Assist: Where a person requires assistance to return to shore but would most likely be able to get themselves out of danger and where there is no immediate threat to life.

Minor first aid: Any incident where a patient is administered some form of minor medical treatment – minor cut, bluebottle sting, minor strain or sprains.

Major first aid: Any incident where a patient needs a higher level of medical intervention and results in the requirement for further medical treatment or is handed to another agency (ambulance or medical professional).

Search: Any organised search for a missing person or group either at sea or on land. This includes body recovery.

Preventative action: Where a surf lifeguard identifies a potentially dangerous situation and takes precautionary action to prevent the situation from developing into or contributing into a real emergency, for example:

§ Shifting the flagged area during the day due to a change in conditions.

§ Preventing swimmers from entering a rip or hole.

§ Removing or isolating broken glass or other hazards from the beach.

§ Checking on swimmers who may appear to be in difficulty.

§ Clearing the beach of swimmers due to a suspected shark sighting.

Shifting board and ski riders out

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