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Surf Life Saving Flags at Long Bay could be Killers

, posted: 4-Jan-2015 18:48

Undoubtably, surf lifesavers perform a sterling service. Particularly at beaches that have a track record of dangerous rips and consequent drownings.

Long Bay Regional Park is one of the most popular parks in Auckland. It is also one of the safest beaches in the country.

For surf lifesavers to erect flags - with their implicit message that swimmers should swim between them - on such a safe beach, when there is no difference between one section of the beach and any other, sends entirely the wrong signal.

Thousands ignore the flags. (And are quite safe in doing so.)

Ignorant individuals might think that they can safely ignore the flags at other beaches where rips do occur. And not realise their peril.

Suggestion: Surf Life Saving NZ, please rethink your strategy at Long Bay.

UPDATE: It is not an implicit message. It is explicit: "Swim between the flags". Eg see the caption 


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Comment by sonyxperiageek, on 4-Jan-2015 19:42

Maybe because there aren't enough lifeguards to cover the entire area of Long Bay, hence the flags for your "extra" safety? They can't cover every inch of Long Bay at once!

Author's note by dmw, on 4-Jan-2015 19:49

They don't NEED to cover the length of Long Bay. No one in Google-recorded history has drowned at Long Bay. 

If SLSNZ want to have a presence at Long Bay, fine. Set up an observation post. But dispense with the flags - to avoid confusion about "safe swimming areas". And to avoid collisions: herding hundreds of swimmers into a confined area can create new problems.

Comment by wasabi2k, on 4-Jan-2015 19:58

This comment is ridiculous.

The flags define the safe, patrolled area in which to swim - which you know will be patrolled/watched by lifeguards.

You are welcome to swim outside of these - at your own risk. A consistent approach to safety at all beaches is ideal - hence "Always swim between the flags".

As has been said you can't watch the entire beach.

Author's note by dmw, on 4-Jan-2015 20:19

Just down the coast a little, at Browns Bay, several people have drowned. Is it patrolled? No. But Mairangi Bay, a little further south, has a surf lifesaving club and patrols. Not logical. 

Parents and caregivers are responsible for looking after younger ones in the water. Not lifeguards. 

Sometimes St John have an ambulance present for a sporting event where they know that people have hurt themselves in the past. (eg rugby grounds, or mountain bike park) They do not mark out the safe and unsafe areas. They don't tell people where they may play and where they may not. But they do have a visible presence, so that if someone is hurt, they know where to go to seek help. 

If SLSNZ wish to operate a First Aid post on Long Bay beach, great. 

Just don't confuse the beach goers - many of whom do not speak English - with flags that don't mean anything.

Comment by shk292, on 5-Jan-2015 08:28

We have a similar situation at Orewa - the beach is about 2.5km long, and there is pair of flags about 50m apart at an arbitrary point (which happens to be outside the SLSC).  So, the SLSC are sayng the only way to swim safely at Orewa beach is to use this particular 2% of an inherently very safe beach?  Nett result, thousands of families developing the understanding that the flags have no great meaning and it's safe to ignore them.

Comment by Sounddude, on 13-Jan-2015 10:31

"Just down the coast a little, at Browns Bay, several people have drowned. Is it patrolled? No. But Mairangi Bay, a little further south, has a surf lifesaving club and patrols. Not logical. "

Browns bay is patrolled during summer holidays and weekends.

Comment by Grant, on 23-Jan-2015 10:13

I understand that the Auckland East Coast beaches are the training and recruiting sites for SLNZ. On these safe beaches they can do all the training, testing and selection of young recruits without worrying as much about their safety before exposing them to the wild west coast beaches (and wild west coast beach goers). Sounds like an admirable strategy to me.

Author's note by dmw, on 23-Jan-2015 12:03

I don't disagree with you, Grant. But you are missing my original point... it is the message that is being sent to the public that is wrong. 

A suggestion solution... under each beach flag put a sign: THE WHOLE BEACH IS SAFE. SWIM ANYWHERE. LIFEGUARDS IN TRAINING HERE.

Comment by Grant, on 23-Jan-2015 18:29

Sorry David - I do agree with your original point. Surf Life Saving are missing a PR and recruiting opportunity, a sign like you suggest would be a good start.

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David White
New Zealand

Goon fan, .NET developer, contrarian seeker of truth