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Lifeguards brace for busy festive season

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/12/2016

New Zealand's lifeguards are bracing for a big couple of weeks with warm water temperatures forecast over the festive season.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand says the two-week Christmas holiday period is often the first chance of the summer that people get to enjoy the beach with friends and family.

But it is urging them to be safety conscious.

Last year, four people drowned on Christmas Day alone.

Since Surf Life Saving patrol season began at Labour Weekend, there have been eight beach drownings compared with two over the same time last summer.

National lifesaving manager Allan Mundy says there will be more than 4000 lifeguards on duty at over 80 beaches nationwide over the Christmas period.

"The beach is a beautiful place and we want people to come and enjoy themselves and leave with happy memories, but personal responsibility also plays a large part," he said.

KEY SAFETY MESSAGES FOR BEACHGOERS

* Choose a patrolled beach and swim between the flags

* Keep a close eye on children

* Never swim or surf alone

* Watch out for rips

* If in doubt, stay out

* Be smart around rocks

* If you spot someone in trouble at an unpatrolled beach, ensure your own safety, dial 111 and ask for police.

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