Inflatable toys can become balloons of trouble

Safety first this Summer says Surf Life Saving New Zealand

Supplied Content
Auckland, January 11, 2021

The weather is heating up and, for those of us still on holiday, now is the perfect time to test out those water activity gifts that Santa left under the tree.

However, despite how fun it might seem to take your new inflatable pineapple to the beach, Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is urging Kiwis to remember that pool toys are not beach toys.

Pool toys not for beaches

SLSNZ Chief Executive Paul Dalton said that inflatable pool toys are not designed for the ocean. “They are lightweight and difficult to propel, meaning that they can quickly be blown out to sea by an off-shore breeze,” he said.

Foxton SLSC Volunteer Surf Lifeguard Callum McKenzie said that he has noticed an increase in the number of people taking pool toys to Foxton Beach in the Horowhenua District over the past few years.

“Typically, it is children who are on the inflatables while their parents are back on the beach.  The parents think that children are fine because they are in shallow water, but then the wind changes direction and suddenly they’re 100m off the shore,” he said.

Shocked children

McKenzie Koppel and his fellow volunteer Surf Lifeguards recently took an IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) out to a pair of teenagers riding an inflatable flamingo, concerned that the young people were too far out of their depth.

“We got to them and asked if they were Ok. Initially they said that they were fine, but then they turned around and realised how far out they had been blown. They were quite shocked. We ended up taking them back to shore,” Mr Koppel said.

Mr Dalton said that volunteer Surf Lifeguards like Callum and McKenzie are ‘Water People’ and know how joyful and refreshing a day at the beach can be.

“All we want is for Kiwis to have fun and enjoy the beach safely this summer. Our Surf Lifeguards conduct hundreds of rescues every year and we are acutely aware of what can go wrong when people ignore safety advice,” he said.

Rescue of girl

In August 2020, a video of a 3-year-old girl being rescued by a ferry boat in Greece went viral.

The inflatable unicorn the toddler was riding was carried away by the wind and current before her parents could reach her, and the ferry picked her up nearly a kilometre off-shore.

About Surf Life Saving New Zealand

Surf Life Saving New Zealand is the national association representing 74 surf lifesaving clubs with more than 18,000 members, including more than 4500 volunteer Surf Lifeguards. Its lifeguards patrol over 90 locations each summer and provide emergency callout rescue services throughout Aotearoa, saving hundreds of lives each year and ensuring thousands return home safe after a day at the beach. These are performed as a charity and rely on the generosity of the public, commercial partners, foundations and trusts for donations and financial contributions in order to lead and support our incredible front-line volunteer lifeguarding services.

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