Swimmers Urged To Play Safe, Stay Safe This Summer

Surf Lifesavers and Police are reminding swimmers to ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ when in, on or around the water this summer.

With the school holidays officially starting today (Friday 20 December 2013), and hot weather predicted for the weekend, anyone heading in or onto the water is urged to use commonsense.

Acting Inspector Alex Barrell from Marine Area Command said the key to water safety is assessing the environment and taking simple precautions.

“Whether you’re going to the beach, a river, lake or swimming pool, it’s important to know the conditions and possible hazards in the area,” A/Insp Barrell said.

“The appearance of many waterways can be deceiving, whether it is depth, current, temperature or submerged objects, so it’s important to check before you get in – or you might be caught out.

“At the beach, surf lifesavers and lifeguards do most of this for you and set up the red and yellow flags to show you where it’s safer, so always listen to their directions.

“Unfortunately, we find that most drownings and near-drownings could have been prevented by heeding safety messages from police, lifesavers and maritime authorities,” A/Insp Barrell said.

Surf Life Saving NSW Lifesaving Manager, Andy Kent, reiterated how important it is to plan ahead by choosing to swim at a patrolled beach, during patrol hours.

“We have over 21,000 highly trained surf lifesavers and lifeguards ensuring the safety of beachgoers around the state, however we need people to make smart safety decisions for themselves and their families about where and when to swim,” Mr Kent said.

Lifesavers are concerned after the release of recent drowning statistics showing the NSW coastal drowning toll was 48 for the 2012/13 season- the highest in many years.

“The drowning issue goes beyond just swimming at unpatrolled beaches with rock fishing deaths and non-powered watercraft remaining a huge problem accounting for over 27% of coastal drownings in NSW,” said Mr Kent.

Surf Life Saving has an easy to use website: www.beachsafe.org.au and a free smart-phone app ‘beachsafe’ to help plan a day at the beach.

Acting Inspector Barrell said with extra boats and pleasure craft expected on the harbour and along the coast this weekend, skippers are reminded of their responsibilities.

“Whether you are in, on or around water, safety should be top of mind,” A/Insp Barrell said.

“As the skipper of a vessel, you are responsible for ensuring it is safe to go out and have all the required safety equipment on board.

“Police, Maritime and Fisheries officers will be on the water conducting safety checks and will issue fines for non-compliance.”

Surf Life Saving NSW Summer Surf Safety Tips:

  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Read and observe the safety signs
  • Ask a lifesaver/lifeguard for safety advice
  • Learn how to identify a rip
  • If you need help, stay calm and attract attention
  • Always wear a lifejacket while boating or rock-fishing
  • If witnessing an in-water emergency call Triple Zero-Police

Surf Life Saving NSW are also reminding people to look after their health in extreme heat and follow advice from NSW Health to drink plenty of water, keep cool, take care of others and have a plan or point of contact.

Fri 20 Dec 2013