Schoolies Warned Don't Drink and Swim

With Schoolies celebrations set to kick off across NSW and southern QLD from this weekend, surf lifesavers and lifeguards are pleading with young revelers to make surf safety a priority.

A recent report has found that almost a third of all drowning deaths in NSW resulted from people swimming after drinking alcohol with 15-24 year olds the most at risk.

With young Schoolies often mixing alcohol with their celebrations, lifeguards and lifesavers are worried about the possibility of a preventable tragedy occurring if teenagers take unnecessary risks in the ocean.

“Each year many schoolies take major risks by swimming outside patrolled areas, swimming at night, and swimming under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” said SLSNSW Lifesaving Manager, Andy Kent. “Sadly, this high risk behavior can end in tragedy.”

Lifeguards and lifesavers will be out reinforcing the ‘Don’t Drink and Swim’ safety message in the key holiday hotspots up and down the NSW coast including Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Merimbula.

However, many schoolies groups are broadening their scope beyond these traditional haunts and will be escaping to smaller seaside towns along the coast such as Port Macquarie, Forster, South West Rocks and Batemans Bay. Many of these beaches are unpatrolled during the week and teenagers are urged to take care.

During the two week Schoolies peak period from the 18th November the Australian Lifeguard Service will be deploying an extra Lifeguard to deal with the influx of beachgoers at Schoolies hot spot, Main Beach in Byron Bay.

SLSNSW Lifeguard Manager, Nigel Tebb, says, “Our services will be working hard throughout the schoolies period and we are preparing our callout teams to respond to after-hours incidents. At the end of the day, young people need to make smart decisions about where and when they swim, choosing a patrolled beach and swimming between the flags is the smartest decision they can make”.

Schoolies Safety Checklist

  • Only swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
  • Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • Never swim at night
  • Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
  • Look after your mates
  • Call ‘000 – Police’ to report an in-water emergency

Visit Beachsafe for vital information like patrolled beach locations, hours of operation, beach status and surf conditions.

Thu 14 Nov 2013