Water Safety NZ says anyone near our awa (river) should follow these handy tips to keep them and their whanāu safe this summer:
Wait 72 hours after rainfall before entering the river
Rivers are changeable and unpredictable – particularly after heavy rainfall. Riverbanks can also become unstable during and after heavy rain.
Check weather forecasts including rainfall in the hills above that could fill the streams and rivers where you are.
Look before you leap – check for hazards
Upstream, downstream and where you’re swimming. Rivers contain hidden dangers and swimming holes can change depths from summer to summer.
Always enter feet first and establish an exit point before you enter.
- Can you see the bottom?
- Is it deep enough for jumping or diving?
- Does the riverbed drop away close to the edge?
- Could you handle the current if you got swept away?
A safe rescue is a land-based rescue
Dial 111 immediately if you see anyone in danger, so emergency services can get there as soon as possible.
If someone is being swept downstream, the only safe rescue is a land-based rescue. Do not enter the river after them. It is unlikely you will be able to reach them to help them and you may need to be rescued yourself.
- Follow the person in trouble down the riverbank.
- Find a safe place where the person may be able to swim towards the bank.
- Use an object like a tree branch to reach out over the river.
- Encourage the person in trouble to grab the branch or paddle and hang on.
- Pull them to the riverbank and help them out.
If you cannot rescue the person safely from the bank:
- Encourage the person to turn on their back and float feet first down the river
- If practical, throw the person a buoyant object like a bucket, chilly bin or ball that they can hang onto and use to keep themselves afloat.