Surf lifesavers plea for people to 'know the beach'

WITH the NSW school holidays officially underway, surf lifesavers are encouraging the public to be beach-aware as they look to make the most of the last remnants of sunshine before winter sets in.

The timely warning from the lifesaving community comes after a recent surge in coastal drownings propelled the NSW tally to 35 with rock fishing deaths in particular continuing to be a source of frustration for the lifesaving community, as rescuers are forced to put their lives on the line to save anglers in sometimes treacherous conditions.

In the past fortnight there have been two rock fishing tragedies in NSW waters including the death of a fisherman off Windang Island in the Illawarra and an incident at Middle Head in Sydney last Wednesday.

With many families flocking to the coast as a rare opportunity to spend quality time together it’s important that people take the time to familiarise themselves with beaches they might not necessarily frequent on a regular basis.

“Our volunteer lifesavers have done an absolutely fantastic job this season but the job is not over and they will be out each weekend doing what they do best which is keeping an eye on the beach,” said SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce.

“It is important however that the public take some steps for their own safety. We strongly encourage all beachgoers to swim at a patrolled location and between those red and yellow flags, get as much information as possible about the weather before heading to the beach, and always let others know your plans and swim in a group where possible,” he said.

In addition to the weekend patrols throughout the State, lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) will be on duty during the week at some of the most popular tourist destinations in NSW.

ALS NSW manager Brent Manieri said lifeguards are looking forward to resuming patrols after enjoying a successful summer earlier this year.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with the various local communities in delivering this vital service and the councils involved deserved to be praised in their commitment to beach safety for visitors and local alike.

“Our lifeguards are well trained to deal with a variety of coastal emergencies and are very much looking forward to getting out and doing what they do best,” Mr Manieri said.

Volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards will be out in force throughout the NSW school holidays. Flags will come down on the 2017/18 season following the last official day of patrol on Sunday April 29.

Beach Safety Tips

Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website. Visit www.beachsafe.org.au for further details

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.

This story Splashing safely in the school holidays first appeared on The Macleay Argus.