Rip currents claimed 22 lives and the NSRI volunteers rescued 19 people nationally from rip currents in the first week of 2016.
And the CEO of NSRI, Dr Cleeve Robertson, has called for improved signage on dangerous beaches saying beach goers need to be educated to ensure they know a rip current is the single biggest danger they face on beaches.
NSRI volunteers rescued a total of 139 people during 122 rescue operations nation-wide and almost a third of those assisted by Sea Rescue were caught in rip currents, Dr Robertson says. Other people caught up in rip currents were assisted by other organisations or were able to self-rescue.
The busiest days for NSRI crew were 27 December with 11 rescues and 1 January with 10 rescues. And the statistic that stands out the most strongly is that 41 people were caught up in rip currents, almost a third of the total rescues, Dr Robertson.
“Our crews responded to 21 fatal and 17 non-fatal drowning incidents from 1 December-13 January 2016. Fourteen of these incidents involved children, Dr Robertson says.
“Eight children drowned; 60% of children who got into difficulty drowned. This terrible fact indicates children’s vulnerability and the need for greater preventative intervention.
“Although over the past year we put substantial effort into rip current education, this is an area that needs more work with communities and officials. Dr Robertson says.
He thanks the Sea Rescue volunteers and their spouses and families for all of the time they put into serving their communities over season.
“You made a difference out there. Thank you,” Dr Robertson adds.
(Edited by St Francis Chronicle)