Staying safe in the water this summer
National Lifesaving manager Alan Mundy shares his tips about how to be safe in the water and why lifeguards are so important.
How important are lifeguards and why?
They are quite literally life savers. Lifeguards are vital in keeping New Zealanders safe at the beach and without them, thousands of New Zealanders wouldn’t have made it home.
Last year alone we rescued over 1,000 people from lifethreatening situations — imagine how different summer would be without lifeguards keeping those people safe and getting them back to their loved ones.
What are some of the rewarding aspects of being a lifeguard?
Seeing people and kids enjoy the thing we all love — the beach. It really is New Zealand’s best playground and we love being able to make it safe for people so they can experience it.
Plus, of course, saving lives. It’s a pretty good feeling when you perform a rescue and know they’re going home to their loved ones.
We seem to have a strong presence of lifeguards in Whangamata¯ and Waihi/Beach. Why do you think that is?
Because of the wonderful beaches and relatively close proximity to the three major population basses of Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland — all of which have many lifeguards who travel to the area to patrol. It is a pretty great place to enjoy summer in!
What are things to watch out for at these beaches?
There are a few things but the main thing to look for are rip currents as they can carry you away from shore. There are several different types of rip currents but they do have common features which you should look out for before heading into the water.
Look for these features to help you identify a rip — but remember, not every rip has all of these features — they may only have one or two:
Regions of deeper, darker water with less wave breaking activity between areas of white water; think of them as rivers of the sea
Narrow areas of surface water that is rippled or bumpy with criss-crossed waves compared to areas either side of this section of water
Turbulent white water with deposits of sand suspended in the water heading offshore.
Lifeguards will be out in force this summer.