Surf Lifesavers experienced one of their busiest weekends of the season as hazardous conditions caused chaos on NSW beaches.
Over the last two days more than 150 people have been rescued, 42 ambulances were tasked to respond to incidents including a number of injuries to swimmers who were dumped heavily by powerful surf, and the Surf Emergency Response System tasked assets on 29 occasions.
Sadly there were two fatalities with a recovery operation continuing on Monday at Valla Beach on the state’s North Coast after a 22-year-old man disappeared while swimming on Saturday afternoon.
In a second incident emergency services responded to reports a man aged in his 20s was found deceased at Hat Head beach on Sunday after the patrol had ended.
In the 56 days since Christmas there has been on average one coastal drowning every four days, and this statistic has prompted lifesavers to again urge the public to take heed of safety warnings.
“Our patrolling members did a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances with big crowds flocking to the beaches on the weekend,” said SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce.
“Their professionalism and vigilance played an important part in preventing a number of situations from escalating, and had they not been there we could have unfortunately been more tragedies.
“We make no apologies for continuing to push our safety messages and urge the public to not overestimate their ability or underestimate the conditions. Things happen very quickly in the ocean and we want people to play it safe when they are around the water,” he said.
Meanwhile a hazardous surf warning issued on Friday evening is expected to remain in place for at least the next 48 hours.
The warning covers waters from the Eden Coast through to Northern NSW with swells in excess of 3 metres is forecast. Additionally Northern NSW could experience significantly larger sets as Cyclone Gita moves into the Tasman Sea.
General Safety Tips during Hazardous Surf Conditions
- Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves
- Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red & yellow flags. See www.beachsafe.org.au for patrolled locations/times
- Check the official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities
- Boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket
- If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero – Police
Monday 19 February 2018