As the school holidays officially kick off this weekend, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) is extending and boosting services, while urging parents to keep a close eye on their children in the surf this summer.
Extra services being rolled out by SLSQ across the Christmas school holidays will ensure that tourism hot-spot Surfers Paradise has a lifesaving service stationed on it for at least 14 hours every weekend and public holiday.
From this Saturday onwards, SLSQ’s volunteer surf lifesavers will be increasing their regular patrol hours on the Gold Coast to cope with an anticipated influx in beachgoers over the holiday period, with the red and yellow flags at most beaches set to be raised from 7:00am to 6:00pm on all weekends and public holidays.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Regular weekend beach patrols at Surfers Paradise will continue through to 6:30pm before the red and yellow flags are brought down; after which, SLSQ will station a surf safety service at the area, through to 7:00pm, to engage with beachgoers, proactively warn them about the dangers of entering the water at night, and discourage them from swimming at unpatrolled locations.
SLSQ’s daily dawn patrol, operating each day from 5:00am, will continue to provide a vital service protecting early-morning beachgoers.
SLSQ Gold Coast lifesaving services coordinator Nathan Fife stressed that beachgoers should only enter the water during patrol hours, which are signified by the red and yellow flags.
“Once the lifesavers or lifeguards on duty take down the red and yellow flags at the end of the day, it’s no longer a patrolled beach and, in the interests of safety, all swimmers should exit the water,” he said.
“We’re hoping this additional service at Surfers Paradise will help us save lives by proactively preventing would-be swimmers from putting their lives on the line by entering an unpatrolled stretch of beach at night,” he said.
In addition, SLSQ has announced it will implement an extra roving patrol service to cover an unpatrolled three-kilometre stretch of coastline adjacent to Sea World Resort, which has previously been identified as a ‘blackspot’ following a number of incidents at the location.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will also increase its services from this weekend onwards, conducting daily aerial patrols across the school holidays, while SLSQ’s emergency response groups will continue to operate around-the-clock, providing a quick response to any after-hours incidents.
Mr Fife also urged swimmers beachgoers to make surf safety a family affair this summer, saying lifesavers were concerned by the increasing number of unsupervised children being left alone on Queensland beaches.
“Unfortunately, we’re continuing to see a lot of situations where parents will drop their young kids off at the beach for the day and then drive off and leave them to their own devices, which is nothing but a recipe for disaster,” Mr Fife said.
“Surf lifesavers and lifeguards will be out in force this summer to watch over and protect swimmers in the flagged areas, and we really encourage all parents and family members to adopt the same approach and look out for each other, particularly when it comes to young children.
“Even if it looks calm on the surface, the ocean can be a dangerous and unpredictable place at times, and having an extra set of eyes could make all the difference.
“It’s really important that parents not only set a good example for their kids by swimming between the red and yellow flags this summer, but also hang around and supervise any of their young children both in and out of the water,” he said.
In addition to its patrol services, SLSQ will also be rolling out a series of off-beach surf safety initiatives across the peak summer months, encompassing televised and radio community service announcements and educational initiatives in a bid to encourage safe swimming practices.