Neighbour Hood Support

Enjoying the Outdoors Safely

There have been a number of recent tragedies involving people getting in to difficulty in the outdoors. There have also been a number of rescues of people inadequately equipped and prepared for the activity they were taking on. Most of these tragedies and rescues were avoidable. New Zealand Land Search and Rescue provide the following advice.

     

  • Always leave your intentions, where you are going, what alternatives you may need to make, who you are going with, and what time you expect to return, with a reliable person.
  • Always confirm that you have returned from a trip into the outdoors. Much time and expense has been incurred by those making an entry in an intentions book and then failing to notify their return.
  • Always take a waterproof top and warm clothing with you, even when good weather is forecast.
  • Don't forget sandfly repellent and if going up to the alpine areas, sunscreen, sunhat, floppy shirt and sunglasses.
  • Taking a map and compass may not be a great help if you do not know how to use them. If you cannot use these navigation tools be more cautious in what you attempt to do.
  • Rivers in New Zealand are the big challenge. If in doubt don't cross. Its better to be late out and have worried some people than tried to cross, not make it and cause them real grief.
  • With little children, the aim is to make it an enjoyable adventure. Don't push them too hard. Have lots of drinks, snacks, and rest breaks. If the weather becomes inclement put on the spare clothing before the children get cold.
  • Take a book on the local flora or fauna and have a game of "identify that bird" or "spot that fern".
  • Lastly, the outdoors are there to enjoy. Cut a lunch, fill the thermos or take a cold drink, pull on the boots, stout walking shoes or sneakers and get out there and enjoy.

Enjoying the beach
Around 130 people drown in waters around New Zealand each year. Most of those drownings occur during the summer months. Water Safety New Zealand provides the following advice.

  • On beaches swim between the yellow and red flags in the areas patrolled and monitored by surf lifeguards.
  • Listen to advice from lifeguards.
  • Never swim alone or without supervision.
  • If in doubt, stay out.
  • Know your limits and swim within them.
  • Read and obey safety signs.
  • Always use safety equipment.
  • Never swim or surf when tired or cold.
  • Consider other surf users.
Learn to recognise rip currents, which are strong currents, often in channels, taking the water that has washed up as waves back out to sea. Look out for:
  • A darker colour indicating the water is deeper.
  • A calm rippled surface, generally with smaller waves.
  • Debris or foam floating on the surface out to sea.

If caught in a rip, you need to:

  • Relax - stay calm and float with the current. Swim across it, not against it.
  • Raise - raise an arm to signal for help.
  • Rescue - float and wait for assistance.

An experienced simmer can wait until out past the breakers, then swim parallel to the shore and catch waves back in.

Remember to supervise children constantly around water, never letting them out of sight.

Also remember that drinking alcohol or taking drugs and swimming, along with wearing clothing in the water such as jeans and sweatshirts, considerably increase the risk of getting in to trouble and drowning.

Diving
Water Safety New Zealand provides the following advice for divers.

  • Always dive / snorkel with a buddy.
  • Check the weather.
  • Check the direction of the wind and tide.
  • Use a dive flag.
  • Keep away from fishing areas.
  • Tell someone your plans
  • Use equipment that fits correctly.
  • Have safety equipment onshore or on the boat.
  • Maintain your equipment.
  • Look for safe exit points from the water.
  • Have warm, dry clothes, food and hot drink nearby.
  • Get professional instruction.
  • Take a refresher course.

Download this fact sheet as a PDF (178 kB)

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