Surf lifesaving message – “enjoy the beach”

Press Release – Surf Life Saving Northern Region

Media release
18 October 2018
Surf lifesaving message – “enjoy the beach”
“Enjoy the beach with us.” That’s the message from Surf Life Saving Northern Region as it prepares for the 2018/2019 season, which officially starts on the Saturday of Labour Weekend.

SLSNR Chief Executive Officer Matt Williams says lifeguards at the region’s 17 clubs, which look after 22 beaches from Raglan to North Cape and down the east coast to Auckland’s North Shore, were totally committed to one objective – “to help beachgoers be safe in the water.”

“Swim between the flags might have become a time-worn phrase, but it’s still the best way to ensure you enjoy your time in the water safely,” says Williams. “It continues to be the safest and most enjoyable place on the beach. So it’s little wonder we are reiterating to the public – join us there between the flags and enjoy your summer at the beach.”

Williams says last weekend’s tragic drowning at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula was a sad reminder there is always a risk when swimming at the beach. “Patrolled beaches are the best option for families looking for a day of fun at the beach. Our volunteers are well-prepared, trained and committed to supporting the public. They are our insurance if anything goes wrong for a swimmer. They can intervene to avoid a tragedy.”

Williams says nine coastal drownings occurred in the Northern Region last year, despite the best efforts of all community groups working to keep the public safe. He emphasised that around one-in-10 drownings in the Region in recent years had tragically arisen from the deceased attempting to rescue another person. “We would much rather the public did not put themselves at risk – would-be rescuer drownings are some of the hardest to deal with, and continue to drive home the necessity of the public having access to adequate lifeguard supervision at their beaches, and water safety education and practical skills delivered to all demographics.”

Williams says although SLSNR has 100 years of patrolling under its belt, the organisation is continually assessing the way it delivers its core service to the public to ensure they provide a safe and enjoyable beach experience for beachgoers at the right times and the right locations.

“Our challenge is to do that sustainably. But it is incredibly difficult to grow the levels of service to meet public demands when the organisation has a continual challenge in meeting business-as-usual costs. SLSNR is a charity receiving financial support from local councils and some major funders but is also heavily reliant on funding from gaming trusts. The latter can be a very volatile and uncertain source of funding. At a national level, discussions have started with central Government who are supportive of the case for funding but it is early days. In the meantime, the Region will work hard to secure funding to support its 17 Clubs and the huge number of volunteers who are so committed to the community.

“We’re still seen in some quarters as just a charity or a sport, and we are those things. But we’re also an established and essential emergency service, that has a strong case for needing additional support.”

Beaches will be patrolled at the weekend between now and Easter 2019, while weekday patrols will also operate over the summer high season, from the start of the Christmas holiday break through to the end of Auckland’s Anniversary Weekend.

Ends
2018-2019 Beach Safety Messages

1. Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the flags.
2. Read and understand the safety signs – ask a lifeguard for advice as conditions can change regularly.
3. Don’t overestimate your ability or your children’s ability to cope in the conditions.
4. Always keep a very close eye on young children in or near the water – keep them within arm’s reach at all times.
5. Get a friend to swim with you – never swim or surf alone.
6. Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore. If caught in a rip current, lie on your back and FLOAT, put your hand up and call for help.
7. Be smart around rocks: When fishing, never turn your back towards the sea and always wear a lifejacket.
8. If in doubt, stay out of the water!
9. If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for Police.
10. Be sun smart – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap. Protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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