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A man has drowned on the state’s Far South Coast on a day volunteer lifesavers were put under the pump by hot weather and large crowds at our beaches.

The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre was advised at around 1.30PM that a man in his 40s was caught in a rip at Handkerchief Beach – an unpatrolled location in Narooma. The man was recovered by lifesavers from the local club in an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) after they had travelled by water to the location.

CPR was commenced but the man was later declared deceased on scene by NSW Ambulance.

After dealing with numerous requests for assistance through the SLSNSW State Operations Centre over the Christmas period, the New Year has brought about a similar story with another huge day for volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards on our beaches.

Near drownings at Shelly Beach and Wamberal on the Central Coast, Shellharbour on the South Coast, and Byron Bay on the Far North Coast were among a host of major incidents, while lifesavers made multiple major rescues across the state.

At 6.20PM, logged rescues tallied 199 for the day – a number that is expected to jump significantly when flags come down – while more than 6,000 preventative actions had been made.

On the Central Coast, two people were pulled from Wamberal Lagoon by members of the public at around 12.30PM, with one later being transported to Gosford Hospital. Both were conscious and breathing when paramedics arrived on scene.

Later, just up the road at Shelly Beach, a 40-year-old man was pulled from the water by lifesavers in a semi-conscious state at around 2PM. He was treated at the scene and also transported to hospital.

On the Far North Coast, a man was pulled from the surf by patrol members unconscious but breathing after being dumped by a wave a little before midday. The man would regain consciousness before being transported to Byron Bay Hospital by ambulance.

Meanwhile, at Shellharbour just before 2.30PM, an 18-year-old male was pulled from the ocean having taken on a significant amount of water and was falling in and out of consciousness. He was treated by paramedics at the scene.

Major rescues across the day would also include an eight-year-old female pulled from water by patrol at Terrigal on the Central Coast having been in distress, two persons pulled from a rip at Box Beach in the Hunter, and a successful Search and Rescue operation for a 62-year-old male at Broken Head on the Far North Coast.

“It has truly been another huge day for our volunteers,” SLSNSW President, George Shales OAM said.

“The New Year period always proves to be a busy one on our beaches and that has rung true once again today. We will end up with well over 200 rescues logged for the day and that is testament to the fantastic work our volunteers do to keep beachgoers safe.”

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.

“The statistics really show a need to push the critical surf safety messaging that SLSNSW works year-round to spread through our communities,” George said.

“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.”

Sunday 1 January 2023