Beach-goers warned to be water-wise

By Emily Norman emily.norman@age.co.nz -
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Weekday lifeguard patrols are wrapping up around the country. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Weekday lifeguard patrols are wrapping up around the country. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

With many weekday patrols wrapping up around the country, Surf Life Saving New Zealand is urging beach-goers to take responsibility for their own safety in the water.

Riversdale Beach Surf Life Saving Club chairman Dave Rose said now schools are back, lifeguards will be patrolling only on weekends and public holidays.

"It's died down a little bit now but it'll be a busy week with Waitangi weekend, so we're expecting quite a few people and we'll be patrolling over the whole weekend, including Monday.

"After that we're just expecting it to drop down to the usual numbers in February and March.

"If it's a nice day during the week, people will decide to come out and we always welcome them to come to the beach. We just advise people to be safe."

National life saving manager Allan Mundy said it is important that people "have their senses switched on" and exercise some caution when heading out into the water .

"People need to take care and understand what risks they may be putting themselves into and take practical steps to avoid them," he said.

"That means not swimming or surfing alone, stopping to assess the conditions and potential dangers and not overestimating your ability.

The Surf Life Saving season officially ends at Easter and volunteer lifeguards will continue to patrol around 80 locations nationwide on the weekends.

Key beach safety messages:

Always keep a very close eye on children in or near the water.

Get a friend to swim with you -- never swim or surf alone.

Watch out for that rip -- rips are calm, deep patches of water close to shore that can sometimes have waves breaking to the side. Rippled, discoloured or foamy water with debris can also mean there is a rip present.

Don't overestimate you or your children's ability to cope in the conditions. Even waist deep water can be life threatening if you step in a hole or get hit by a large wave. Preferably be in the water within arm's length of them at all times on a surf beach.

If you're away from home, check with the locals and ask them about the conditions and the safest place to swim. Or go online and find the closet patrolled beach at findabeach.co.nz

If in doubt, stay out!

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