Lifeguards and Coastguard well equipped to help Kiwis this summer
The Government’s critical support for the water safety sector through the pandemic means lifeguards are better equipped on our beaches and Coastguard is sailing new boats to the rescue.
“Our $63 million package for water safety initiatives in Budget 2020 has been a game changer for our water safety sector, which is run almost entirely by passionate Kiwi volunteers,” Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.
“This was the first time in Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s 110-year history that central government has financially supported surf lifesaving clubs on the frontline, and it has made a huge difference to the work and wellbeing of the key volunteers that run their 74 clubs nationwide.
“The funding has allowed Surf Life Saving New Zealand to maintain frontline services even when their traditional revenue streams were under pressure due to COVID-19.”
Funding covered 50 per cent of the operational costs over the past year, including lifeguard training and the purchase, maintenance and repair of important lifesaving equipment.
Major repair and rebuilding projects in 18 surf lifesaving clubs across the motu have also been made possible by this funding, with several more planned for next year.
“Our Coastguard assisted over 16,000 Kiwis to safety between July 2020 and June 2022, supported with new protective equipment and upgraded boats,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.
“The Government has helped customise 22 of the chase boats used during the America’s Cup, so they could be turned into rescue vessels. Coastguard is also now able to employ 70 staff, and have 2,000 extraordinary volunteers who consistently put in a massive effort to keep people safe on the water.
“Enjoying the ocean, lakes and rivers is a big part of summer in New Zealand, but we all have a responsibility to look out for ourselves, family and friends when visiting the beach or out on a boat.
“Education of our tamariki and young people is key to preventing water incidents which is why we are also refreshing Water Safety New Zealand’s Water Skills for Life programme, which sets the national standard for aquatic education in New Zealand primary schools.”
If you’re playing in the water this summer, please remember these key water safety rules:
- Be prepared. Check the weather forecast and marine conditions. Know the local environment and the safe swimming spots. Set rules for safe play and use safe and well-maintained equipment.
- Look out for yourself and others. Always supervise children around water and keep children under five years within arm’s reach. Never swim alone. Swim between the flags at the beach. If you’re on a boat, make sure everyone on board is wearing a well-fitted lifejacket.
- Be aware of the dangers. The water will be cold. If it’s a surf beach, it’s a rip beach.
- Know your limits. Challenge yourself within your abilities and skill level. Know what you can and can’t do in the water.