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Relax, celebrate, but stay safe, that’s the key message that surf lifesavers are urging the community to take to heart ahead of what is traditionally the busiest day on beaches across the state.

It’s been a challenging start to the season for the lifesaving community with at least 18 coastal drownings since July with the rising figure remaining an ongoing concern as peak summer looms.

New Year’s Day is traditionally one of the busiest days of the season as revellers flock to the ocean to cool off or head to summer holiday destinations, and while it is a day to celebrate, it is also one where situations can escalate, particularly at unfamiliar beaches.

Just over a year ago, to kick-off 2017 there were over 140,000 people visiting a patrolled beach with lifesavers having to undertake 45 rescues and administer 130 first aid treatments, with tomorrow’s volunteers gearing up for another busy day.

While forecasts suggest that there will be afternoon showers to ring in 2018 in some parts of state, the mercury likely hover in the mid-to-late 20s which will encourage people to head to the beach as a means of cooling off.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steven Pearce, is urging everyone planning to head to the coastline to celebrate the New Year to take their safety seriously.

“There are a number of simple ways you can help ensure that you and your family have a safe and enjoyable time on the beach. Always swim at a patrolled location between the flags and very importantly, don’t enter the water under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Mr Pearce.

With the dry heat dehydration is also a major concern and people with medical conditions are advised to take extra care around water, and if they feel in distress to seek treatment immediately.

 “Lifesavers and lifeguards are out in force but we need the public to take some responsibility for their own safety, and sadly the tragic incidents we have witnessed in December are a tragic reminder of the power of the ocean,” said Mr Pearce.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of the beach going public, and while our volunteers and support teams will be ready in the event of emergencies, we’d ask the public to make the job of lifesavers and lifeguards as easy as possible by looking out for their own and others safety.

Volunteer lifesavers will be patrolling each weekend and public holiday until flags fall on the 2017/18 season on Sunday 29 April 2018.

Beach 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 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.

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

Sunday 31 December 2017