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Abstract

In an island nation such as New Zealand with easy access to surf beaches, surfing activities are very popular and, while generally perceived as a healthy form of outdoor recreation, they do have attendant risks. This study reports on nondrowning, surfing-related incidents that required medical first aid on beaches during five summer seasons from 2007-2012. Retrospective descriptive analysis of data from lifeguard first aid reports found that 16% (n = 1,327) of injuries were the consequence of surfing activity. More males than females were treated for surfing injuries (68% male, 31% female). Lacerations (59%) and bruising (15%) accounted for most of the injuries. The head was the most common site of injury (32%) and most injuries were caused by contact with the victims own board (50%). Ways of promoting surf safety via equipment modification, the use of protective head gear, the management of surfing activity by lifeguards, and public education are discussed.

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