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Marine Parade safety messages key to safe summer

Napier Summertime Pohutukawa Dec 2021 4

Localising water safety messages, making them specific to the characteristics of Napier’s beaches, and distributing them across a range of media to reach locals and visitors, adults, youth and children is considered key to ensuring a safe summer.
Napier City Council is working closely with New Zealand Police, Surf Life Saving New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand to decide on water safety solutions at Napier beaches, particularly along Marine Parade. The water safety working group met this week to discuss short, medium and long-term solutions to keeping people safe on Marine Parade.
Jess Bennett, Surf Life Saving’s Search and Rescue Coordinator, says raising local knowledge of the particular conditions at beaches in the area is paramount.
“We need to make sure people know their beaches, and they share that knowledge with their visitors, and friends and family,” says Jess. “This beach at Marine Parade is a prime example. It can look calm but under the surface there is a steep drop-off, strong undertow and unpredictable waves. The stones on the water’s edge can also be unstable under foot and it is very easy to be knocked off your feet. It can be really dangerous and extremely difficult to exit the water.”
The group is also working to make sure safety and rescue measures are in place at Napier’s beaches. Surf Life Saving New Zealand will trial public rescue equipment, funded by New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR), at sites along Marine Parade. These devices are designed to be thrown to a person in the water to assist them until emergency services arrive.
Napier City Council funds the summer lifeguard services at Marine Parade during the weekdays, and Surf Life Saving is reviewing how the patrols can be enhanced.
Locals are being asked to stay alert when at Marine Parade, not just of their own group but of others who may not know the area’s idiosyncrasies.
Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says that if people see someone close to or in the water at Marine Parade, speak up as they may not be aware of the risks.
“There have been too many tragedies on our beaches. If you see anyone in trouble, call 111 immediately. And at all times, swim between the Surf Lifesaving yellow and red flags.”
Additional signage will also be put up along the Marine Parade in the short term. The signage will re-iterate that it is unsafe to swim or paddle at the water’s edge, even if the water looks calm. Water safety messaging specific to Marine Parade will be promoted on radio, at facilities and accommodation situated along Marine Parade over the summer months.
In 2022, Swimming New Zealand, with the water safety working group, will ensure local information is added to their education programmes in schools. This is aimed at building awareness among children and youth of the specific risks of local water areas such as Marine Parade.
A coastal public safety assessment is being undertaken by Surf Life Saving New Zealand and is due to Napier City Council in April 2022. This updated assessment will help inform water safety initiatives in the longer term.
The local water safety working group will meet regularly to pull together their expertise and action water safety initiatives, including implementing recommendations of the coastal public safety assessment.

23 December 2021

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