Life­guards plea to ‘‘swim be­tween flags’’

Northern News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - AN­NETTE LAM­BLY

The Surf Life Sav­ing sea­son of­fi­cially be­gan on Labour Week­end with pa­trols be­gin­ning in parts of the up­per North Is­land. Oth­ers will roll out across the lower North Is­land and into the South Is­land as the weather warms up.

Surf Life Sav­ing New Zealand urges peo­ple to choose a pa­trolled beach and swim be­tween the flags in an ef­fort to break the ris­ing num­bers of drown­ings each year.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Dal­ton says last sum­mer was one of the worst in many years with 19 beach drown­ings be­tween Labour Week­end and Easter - up 36 per cent (five drown­ings) on the pre­vi­ous sum­mer, de­spite the poor weather keep­ing many peo­ple out of the wa­ter.

‘‘From th­ese grim sta­tis­tics, peo­ple clearly need to take their own safety at beaches far more se­ri­ously,’’ he says.

Dal­ton says it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see the in­creas­ing drown­ing rates but one statis­tic re­mains the same year on year; zero drown­ings be­tween the flags.

‘‘While we may sound like a bro­ken record, there is a very im­por­tant rea­son why we urge peo­ple to choose a pa­trolled beach and swim be­tween the flags. It is al­ways the safest place to swim.’’

Over the 2016/17 sum­mer sea­son, Surf Life­guards res­cued 612 peo­ple from life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions and as­sisted an­other 1,184 back to safety.

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