The Kiwi summer is the perfect time to get out and about and enjoy our region. But there are still plenty of dangers lurking out there if you’re not careful. Wairarapa emergency services have offered up some tips on how to get through the holiday period in one piece. Hayley Gastmeier reports.
Wairarapa area commander Inspector Donna Howard said police would be maintaining a highly visible presence on the roads over the summer to reduce serious injuries and deaths from road crashes.
Tactics would include targeting those who choose to drive above the speed limit, those not buckled up, and those driving while impaired.
Ms Howard said also that misuse of alcohol often went hand-in-hand with family harm incidents.
“The holiday period is very challenging for some families, and the sad reality is that whilst many of us are looking forward to it, for others this is not always the case.
“Financial and family stressors, when combined with an increased consumption of alcohol, often lead to family harm situations.”
She said police would be actively working with victims and partner agencies throughout the summer to ensure suitable support and intervention plans were in place for families and individuals known to be at risk.
“If you are drinking make sure you have equal amounts of water or non-alcoholic drinks. If an argument starts to brew, take a deep breath and walk away.”
There were also some simple things people could do to help prevent burglaries ruining the holiday season.
She said to ensure cars and sheds were locked, and not to leave any valuables such as wallets, sunglasses, tools in clear view.
“If you are going away for the holidays please make every effort to make it look like you are home.
“This may mean speaking to your neighbours and getting their help to open and close curtains each day, clear the mailbox and perhaps turn the lights on and off.”
Surf Life Saving New Zealand national lifesaving manager Allan Mundy said last year four people drowned on Christmas Day alone.
“Since the surf life saving patrol season began at Labour Weekend, there have been eight classified beach drownings versus two at the same time last year.”
4000 lifeguards would be on duty at over 80 beaches nationwide this festive season.
At every patrol location, lifeguards will assess the surf and tidal conditions and put up the flags at the safest part of the beach, and will continue to move them throughout the day as conditions change.
Mr Mundy said, to be safe, people should choose to take their families to a patrolled beach and swim between the flags.
“If you can’t see the red and yellow patrol flags, then our lifeguards can’t see you, and it will take longer for help to arrive – and time is critical.”
Mr Mundy said children needed to be minded closely and people should never swim or surf alone.
He said to be smart around rocks, and watch out for rips.
“Rips are calm, deep patches of water close to shore that can sometimes have waves breaking to the side.
“Rippled, discoloured or foamy water with debris can also mean there is a rip present.”
He said people heading to the beach needed to know their fitness limits, take correct swimwear, have a leash and fins for their boogie board, be sun smart, and stay off the alcohol.
Masterton Fire Service station officer Mike Cornford said being “fire conversant” this summer was a must.
He reminds the public to check smoke alarms in their homes, making sure they are in working order.
“They’ve also got to make sure they’ve got smoke alarms in caravans and sleep-outs if they have guests staying.”
He said people also needed to be vigilant while barbecuing.
“Currently there’s no fire restrictions in place, so people are allowed to have outside barbecues in the rural areas.
“But things are drying out very quickly now so they need to take reasonable care with what they are doing.”
Mr Cornford said the fire service regularly attended car crashes, so encouraged people to be careful on the roads.
“We, along with the police, are concerned with drink driving and motor vehicle accidents.
“There are lots of tourists who may be travelling and who may be unfamiliar with the roads.
“We want people to go away and come home safely.”
He said people holidaying at campgrounds should be aware of their surroundings.
Wairarapa Road Safety Council
Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said during the holiday period last year 12 people died and 71 people were seriously injuries on New Zealand roads.
He said crashes were “almost always entirely preventable”, and with many people using the holiday period to “get away from it all”, there were some simple road safety rules to follow to stay safe while driving.
He said be sure to drive to the conditions and keep speeds down.
“If drinking, the only seat in the car you should occupy is one of the passenger seats.”
Drivers must solely concentrate on the road and avoid distractions, meaning it was best to turn cell phones off.
Mr Pauling said it was important to be patient with other drivers, and pull over at the first safe opportunity if you were holding up traffic.
“Drive fresh. Get plenty of rest and don’t drive for at least 12 hours if you were drinking the night before.”
He said to share the driving and, most importantly, to make sure everyone in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt.