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Volunteer lifesavers are encouraging holiday beachgoers to heed the warning signs from last summer and swim between the flags at a patrolled beach this summer.

With warm conditions expected across the Christmas weekend contrasting strongly with the cooler temperatures we have experienced to date this summer, surf lifesavers and lifeguards are expecting large numbers of people to visit the coastline over the coming days.

Last year across the state, the period between December 2021 and February 2022 claimed the record for the most coastal and ocean drowning deaths over a summer, with 25 fatalities recorded in NSW, despite the higher than usual rainfall from La Niña and reduced beach attendances.

In NSW, drowning deaths are 2.7 times more likely to occur on a public holiday and 1.6 times more likely during school holidays. The end of year break, often coupled with celebrating with family and friends, can create a perfect storm.

“We love the holidays, as it’s a time to connect with family and friends and celebrate the great life that we live in Australia,” SLSNSW President, George Shales OAM said.

“However, it’s important we don’t get carried away during this period and forget to be vigilant on our beaches.

“The beach and an Australian Christmas are synonymous with each other, but we can’t let the festivities cloud our judgement as putting ourselves in dangerous positions in the water can have devastating consequences.

“Our volunteer lifesavers have been so busy this year, playing a large role in the flood relief efforts that, in many cases, are still ongoing across the state.

“We really hope that this summer, the public understands their limitations and avoids situations that may end up requiring lifesaving intervention.”

Data from the 2022 NSW Coastal Safety Report, released in September as a reflection of the 12 months from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, suggests that males are heavily overrepresented in drowning statistics, making up an enormous 87% of all recorded fatalities.

During the documented period, 55 coastal drownings were recorded – a record high that was up almost 30% on the 10-year average.

“The statistics reinforce the need for us to push surf safety messages throughout our communities,” George continued.

“It’s also a stout reminder that one of the most important things to do when considering entering the water is to do so at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.”


  • 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
  • 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
  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App

Friday 23 December 2022