Lifesavers Urge Caution After Spike In Drownings

With just four weekends remaining before the flags come down on beaches around the state at the end of the 2015/16 Patrol Season, volunteer lifesavers have issued a plea for beach users to take their safety seriously after a recent spike in coastal drownings.

The statistics make for sobering reading.

Since January there have been 27 coastal drownings in 91 days - an average of one almost every 3 days including three in the last week alone.

NSW Lifesaving Manager Andy Kent said this week’s incidents are a tragic reminder to everyone about just how quickly a situation can deteriorate in the water.

“It’s been a difficult period for our volunteers who all do a fantastic job under very trying circumstances. What these drowning statistics highlight is just how quickly things can escalate in an emergency situation in the ocean environment,” Mr Kent said.

“We make no apologies for continuing to stress the importance of our beach safety messages as it appears sadly that sometimes they aren’t getting through.

“It’s important that people know their limitations, check the conditions before heading out, make the effort to go to a patrolled location and take all safety messages and weather warnings seriously.”

Of the 40 drownings that have occurred since July 2015, 15 have been swimmers, with the victim often getting into difficulty in a rip current. This is followed by diving and snorkelling-related and rock fishing accidents.

The warm start to autumn has resulted in an increase in crowds at beaches around NSW with the surge in numbers expected to continue into the upcoming school holidays, and with many people flocking to an unfamiliar beach, the warnings about knowing your environment take on greater importance.

Volunteer lifesavers will be patrolling beaches around NSW each weekend and public holiday until Monday 25 April 2016.

General Safety Tips:

  • 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 wear a lifejacket if you are rock fishing or boating
  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
  • 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
  • Don’t forget to be sun safe by remembering to: Slip on some protective clothing, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Slide on a pair of sunglasses, Seek some shade and Sip on lots of water to stay hydrated
  • Information about beach patrol times can be found on the BeachSafe Website

Fri 1 Apr 2016