As thousands of NSW Year 12 graduates make their final preparations for the traditional schoolies week which officially kicks off from Saturday, the lifesaving community is again issuing a warning to those looking to cool off during the celebrations; alcohol and the ocean are a dangerous combination.
An influx of school leavers will be heading to holiday hotspots across the state, with sea, sun, and fun sure to be an important part of the festivities which marks the end of 13 years of study.
One of the more popular destinations for the class of 2018 is sure to be Byron Bay and surrounding regions with preparations well underway by the area’s lifesavers and lifeguards in anticipation of the expected 14,000 visitors set to descend on the town.
“For us Schoolies Week really is the countdown to summer and our busiest period of the year,” said Far North Coast Emergency Services Coordinator Jimmy Keough.
“What is a concern is that already this season we have seen an increase in people swimming at unpatrolled and remote locations. This is troubling because things can happen very quickly in the water and it can take time for lifesaving assets to reach you should you become distressed.
“Our key advice to everyone but particularly to our school leavers visiting from outside the area is to make that extra effort and swim between those red and yellow flags at a patrolled location,” he said.
Lifesavers are encouraging visitors to head to Main Beach Kingscliff, Byron Bay’s Main Beach or Lennox Head where Lifeguards will be on patrol five-days-a-week for the three week period of Schoolies.
All local surf clubs will be patrolled on the weekends by volunteer lifesavers with Byron Bay extending their usual patrol hours from 9am-5pm.
Additionally the Far North Coast Branch of Surf Life Saving has activated their support operations team for the entire duration of the festivities. That means jet skis, 4 wheel drives and duty officers are available to respond to emergencies if required.
Northern NSW isn’t the only area gearing up for a busy fortnight with other towns including Port Macquarie, Forster, South West Rocks and Batemans Bay all experiencing a surge in popularity for schoolies looking for a more relaxed holiday in recent years.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce hopes that the key message of “watching out for your mates” will get through to all teenagers embarking on schoolies.
“While our lifesavers and lifeguards are all extremely well-trained, it is important for everyone to know the dangers and to watch out for your friends while enjoying the water.
There are many wonderful beaches across NSW, and they are great places to relax, but it is crucial for everyone to be aware of the importance of surf safety.
“Please take the time to familiarise yourself with local conditions, always swim between the flags during patrolled hours, ask lifeguards or lifesavers for advice and avoid the temptation of swimming after consuming alcohol or swimming at night,” Mr Pearce said.
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, and know where your group is while in the water
- Call triple-zero – Police to report an in-water emergency
Thursday 22 November 2018