Crowds of people from across Northland came to listen and learn from Waipu Cove's surf lifesaving club team as they finished their four-day water safety education tour yesterday .
The crew of 14 started on Tuesday at Kai Iwi Lakes, then to Matai Bay On Wednesday, and Cable Bay and Taupo Bay on Thursday. They finished the tour at Matapōuri beach yesterday where they gave children and adults alike, opportunity to learn more about water safety and take part in a range of lifeguard activities.
"The public have responded really well and it's been awesome development for our younger lifeguards," Waipu club captain Kath Manning said.
"Each beach has been different and we've found it's worked best to get the kids to drag the adults into it."
The tour included demonstrations of CPR, how to operate an IRB vessel, different rescue techniques, how to spot rips as well as games and activities for the children.
Manning said the experience had been very valuable for her younger recruits as well as for members of the public.
"All their techniques have been fine-tuned a bit and the team bonding has been awesome too."
She said strong crowds of about 60 people had turned up at Cable and Taupo Bay to take part in the initiative who had been motivated to learn how to use flotation devices which had been recently placed on their beaches.
These flotation devices had been placed at Cable Bay by an initiative called "Operation Flotation" which was started in response to a tragic drowning in the area last year. It was this initiative which spurred the Waipu club to apply for funding for the education tour.
"We've just been trying to push the idea of knowing your limit," Manning said.
"Don't just think, 'I'm going to go straight out to help someone', but think about it first before dashing in there and grab something that floats or call for help, all those kinds of things."
Manning said the main blind spot for beachgoers was the ability to spot rips. She said the important signs to look for were if there was an estuary nearby or if the waves coming in looked split with a channel running through them.
She said if the club received enough funding, they would be happy to do another tour to different areas.
Young lifeguard Alyssa Flannagan said the tour had been a unique experience for her and her club mates.
"It's actually been really fun because you see different beaches and it's good to get an idea of different areas because the ones we've been to don't have lifeguards so we can see what the environment is like."
Fifteen-year-old Flannagan, who became a qualified lifeguard in 2017, said she was happy to help her team raise awareness of the importance of water safety in different areas.
"Coming into summer, you don't want anymore drownings and you can never have enough knowledge, especially on water safety.
"Letting people know how to use a water tube or CPR or recovery positions especially at these beaches which are unpatrolled so people can help others if they are in trouble."
Flannagan said she would jump at the chance to do another education tour because it was of huge benefit to her as a lifeguard and the public as beachgoers.