Lifeguards patrolling beaches this summer have a new weapon in their arsenal as they battle to keep Kiwis safe at popular holiday spots.
Devices, known as drifters, will be used to plot GPS data and drones will be used to map the rip currents and their behaviours so lifeguards will have a better understanding of where someone might be when swept out to sea.
The data collected will also be used to inform the public about safety spots before hitting the water.
Since the drifters can sink, they will also make the tough task of body recovery a little easier.
“We can sink them at different parts of the water column. When we’ve lost someone for a period of time when they’ve drowned they become really heavy and they do sink down into that low area we call that the benthic current,” says National Lifesaving Manager Allan Mundy.
Last year lifeguards made more than 1,200 rescues and 85 per cent of them were people caught in rips.
“Everyone who swam in the flags for the last 106 years has never drowned. We know how to manage that space. It’s outside the flagged area where we have trouble,” says Mr Mundy.
The drifters will be used during a six week period on selected beaches in New Zealand.