Life savers pleading for beach-goers to ‘put safety first’ after record deaths

Queensland has recorded its highest number of beach-related deaths on record, with surf lifesavers calling for people to take more care.

The figures come as volunteer surf lifesavers prepare to return to Queensland beaches this weekend for the start of school holidays.

21 people died on the State’s beaches in the last financial year according to Surf Life Saving Queensland’s 2018-19 Coast Safe Report.


12 of those deaths were males aged between 51 and 73.

Surf Life Saving Queensland Services Manager Peta Lawlor says that’s quite alarming.

“The statistics have shown that those 12 people have potentially suffered a medical condition whilst in the water, whilst swimming, whilst wading and performing those actions before or after patrol or where there are no services,” Ms Lawlor said.

“We haven’t been able to get to them on time or get to them at all.”

“If you are within that demographic and you are quite physical and want to go in the water the first thing remember is you only swim between the flags.”

Ms Lawlor is also urging people in that age group to have a medical check-up if they haven’t had one in the last 12 months.

The Coast Safe Report also reveals that 10 of the 21 deaths on beaches last year were international visitors.

“People want to come to Queensland and visit the beaches and have a wonderful time, the sad part is 10 of those did not make it back or did not make it home,” Ms Lawlor said.

“So we need to get our message out there far and wide to domestic and international visitors, if you are coming to the beach you must swim between those red and yellow flags.”

SLSQ plans to ramp up its Same Wave program this season which educates migrants and international students and offers water skills assessments for homestay students.

Surf Life Savers performed almost 4000 rescues last season, a jump of 35% on the previous year.

They also carried out over 700,000 preventable actions where they’ve had to warn people who have got themselves in trouble.

“What that means for us is that people are taking some risks and we need to the message out clear and wide that if you are going to the beach you need to swim between the flags.”