Surf life savers out in force educating Kiwi beach-goers on water safety

Surf life savers are travelling the country, pushing their message of water safety as thousands of holidaymakers flock to beaches.

Northland has the third highest drowning toll in the country.

To combat that, lifeguards are giving holidaymakers at Doubtless Bay lessons in CPR and what to do if someone is choking. 

Kath Manning of Surf Life Saving New Zealand told 1 NEWS a lot of people aren't sure how to spot a rip and are getting in over their heads, out of their depth. 

Nationwide, 22 people died while swimming last year, seven more than the year before. 

Beach-goers need to be especially vigilant as on average 18 people drown at beaches every year. 

"In response to some drownings in the north last year we thought let's get behind that and help spread the message to some unpatrolled beaches where maybe they're not used to seeing red and yellow flags," Ms Manning said.

The lifeguards chose Doubtless Bay because it was there last summer that a 54-year-old man drowned trying to help his 12-year-old daughter who got stuck in a rip. Locals managed to save the girl but they couldn't save her father. 

"Your first instinct is to help someone. So the key thing is you need to know your own limits and put your own safety first, and take something that floats," Ms Manning said. 

The Doubtless Bay drowning sparked Pat Millar of 'Operation Flotation' to fundraise to have five flotation devices installed in the area. 

A message on the floats states, "If you can't swim do not use this device. Do not go in the water"  and "Get help, yell and call 111".

Ms Millar said, "We don't really want it to be used. We want that if the situation is there and it's needed, that it's here for our people." 

The lifeguards are hoping swimmers get the safety message.

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The holiday drowning toll is half that of last years – but water safety experts are urging caution. Source: 1 NEWS