Australia Day is one of the busiest days of the years for volunteer surf lifesavers who have a simple message for those heading to the beach or coast to celebrate – please swim between the red and yellow flags.
Last year over 500,000 people went to the beach around NSW on the days leading into and including Australia Day. There were a total of 626 rescues and 685 first aid treatments administered on January 24 and 25, before an additional 48 rescues on Australia Day itself.
Although forecasts suggest a respite from the heat that has been dogging the state for the best part of a fortnight with rain and wind a strong possibility, lifesavers are still gearing up for a busy few days.
The tragic deaths of six people along the NSW coastline in two days this week is a timely reminder about just how quickly things can go wrong and highlights the importance of reinforcing surf safety messages.
“A visit to the beach is an extremely popular activity on Australia Day and we urge everyone to make sensible decisions so that they can enjoy the beach safely,” NSW Lifesaving Manager Andy Kent said.
“Alcohol and swimming aren’t a good combination so if you are going to have few drinks please don’t go into the water. It’s also extremely important to swim at patrolled locations and between the flags.
“During these school holidays we have had a number of incidents where people have got into difficulty at unpatrolled locations, and while we do have callout teams that are well prepared to handle emergency situations, the fact remains it could take us some time to reach you.”
Lifesavers are also encouraging the public to be aware of potentially powerful surf conditions and a long swell period of up to 16 seconds along the coast this weekend, which can be extremely hazardous for rock fishers.
Volunteer lifesavers will be patrolling NSW beaches each weekend and public holiday until Monday April 25.
Tips For Keeping Safe At The Beach
- Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website
- Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
- Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
- Always wear a lifejacket if you are boating or fishing from rocks
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
- In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police
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