Planning day at beach 'could just save your life'

By Regan Paranihi

Drowning is the number one cause of recreational death and number three cause of accidental death according to Water Safety New Zealand.

With the hot weather settling in for the next couple of months, holiday-goers will be soaking up the sun around the water. 

Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says, "Taking a few minutes to plan a day out at the beach could just save your life.  There is a very important reason why we urge people to choose a patrolled beach and swim between the flags.  The fact is, it is always the safest place to swim,"

He says often people underestimate the risk of being out in the water and overestimate the ability of surf lifeguards.

"Take a moment to stop and think before entering the water, and if in doubt, stay out," says Dalton.

The risks are high for swimmers and those using boats and other water-going vehicles.

"There are two simple things that people can do to ensure [safety] - wear a lifejacket and carry two forms of waterproof communication so that you can call for help if you do get into difficulty," says Coastguard CEO Patrick Holmes.

Mr. Holmes says most water accidents happen without warning.

“There may be no time to grab a lifejacket and it's extremely difficult to put one on in the water.  A lifejacket never ruined a day on the water so take them and wear them."

Coastguards are urging everyone to remember the four rules of the Water Safety Code when going out on the water this summer and to avoid harm when participating in aquatic activities.

The four rules of the Water Safety Code:

1. Be prepared.  Learn to swim and survive. 

2. Watch out for yourself and others.  Always pay close attention to children you are supervising when in or near water. 

3. Be aware of the dangers.  Enter shallow and unknown water feet first and obey all safety signs and warning flags. 

4. Know your limits.