If you or your children unwrapped an inflatable toy for Christmas, take note that the ocean isn’t the place for them to be tested out.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand would like to issue a trespass notice banning inflatable toys at the beach.
“These bad boys are not welcome at any New Zealand beach,” says the charity’s national community education manager Dr Mick Kearney.
The tongue in cheek message has a serious element to it – inflatable toys are meant for the pool and cause trouble at the beach, he says.
“They may look like fun, but when you’re on them the wind can easily blow you out to sea.”
Raising awareness about inflatable toys is part of a Surf Life Saving New Zealand campaign called Ready. Set. Summer. It will highlight safety messaging around inflatables, surfing, body boarding and stand-up paddle boarding.
Before buying inflatable toys as Christmas presents, Surf Life Saving New Zealand urged people want to stop and think about where they will be used.
“They are not ideal for the beach. If someone is on one and gets blown offshore, they could end up in trouble – it’s that simple,” Dr Mick says.
“It only takes a little bit of a breeze.”
He says anyone who does get blown out to sea on an inflatable toy should stay with it and raise their hand for help.
“A lot of people panic, throw their inflatable toy and try and swim back to shore and often end up struggling to get back.
“Stay on it. Hold on to it – at least it will keep you afloat.
“But we don’t want it on the beach to start with,” he says.
Users of any vessel, from a kayak to a boat, should always wear a life jacket and carry two forms of waterproof communication – such as a cellphone in a plastic bag, a VHF radio, flares or flags.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Beach Safety Tips:
1. Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the flags.
2. Look for, read and understand the safety signs - ask a lifeguard for advice as conditions can change regularly.
3. Don't overestimate your ability or your children's ability to cope in the conditions.
4. Always keep a very close eye on young children in or near the water - keep them within arm’s reach at all times.
5. Get a friend to swim with you - never swim or surf alone.
6. Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore. If caught in a rip, remember the 3 R’s: 1. Relax and float to conserve your energy, 2. Raise your hand to signal for help, 3. Ride the rip until it stops and you can swim back to shore safely. Nobody is stronger than a rip.
7. When fishing from rocks, never turn your back towards the sea and always wear a lifejacket.
8. If in doubt, stay out!
9. If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 111 and ask for police as they have a direct line to SLSNZ.
10. Be sun smart – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap. Protect your skin and eyes from the sun's damaging rays.