SURF Life Saving Queensland is urging swimmers to stay safe and swim between the red and yellow flags this Easter.
Surf lifesavers will be out in force across the holiday weekend but, with large crowds expected to flock to the beach, SLSQ Lifesaving Services Manager Peta Lawlor has called on swimmers to also play their part by exercising caution and common sense.
“Traditionally speaking, the Easter period is the last big weekend on our beaches for the season as swimmers look to make the most of the warmer months before winter really kicks in,” Ms Lawlor said.
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“We’ve seen some big swell and rough conditions all along our coastline in recent days off the back of Cyclone Ita, so we really urge beachgoers to take care and put safety first.
“Tragically, there have been six beach related drownings on Queensland beaches so far this season and, as far as we’re concerned, this is six too many.
“The saddest part is that all of these drownings occurred outside the red and yellow flags, which really highlights the importance of swimming at an open beach which is actively patrolled by lifeguards and lifesavers.
“Obviously we want people to have fun and enjoy themselves on the beach this holiday period but it’s important they don’t get complacent about their surf safety in the process. Just one lapse of judgement could have potentially fatal consequences and, at the end of the day, it’s not worth the risk when it comes to your safety and wellbeing,” Ms Lawlor said.
SLSQ has boosted its services to cope with the potential holiday rush of beachgoers.
The Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service will extend its regular patrols to include beaches from North Stradbroke to Tweed River while surf lifesavers will also be conducting mid-week roving patrols and dawn patrols.
SLSQ will also be operating a lifeguard service at Paradise Point across the Easter period.
Ms Lawlor has also urged swimmers to take note of any safety signs and heed the advice of lifeguards and lifesavers on duty.
“It’s no secret that Australians love to celebrate a public holiday and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of folks looking to have a few drinks in the process, but we really discourage people from bringing the party to the beach and mixing alcohol with a swim,” she said.
“Alcohol can greatly impair your judgement and slows your reflexes – a potentially deadly combination when it
comes to the surf.
“Always remember, if surf lifesavers and lifeguards can’t see you, they can’t save you,” Ms Lawlor said.
She encouraged beach visitors to follow these simple guidelines to enjoy an incident-free Easter holiday –
- Swim between the red and yellow flags
- Look for, and follow, the advice of safety signs
- Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
- Always swim with a friend where possible
- If you find yourself in trouble, don’t panic. Stick your hand up for help.
- Don’s swim at unpatrolled beaches
- Don’t swim at night or after consuming alcohol
Last season, Queensland’s lifesavers spent more than 336,000 hours on patrol, performing 558,911 preventative actions and, most importantly, saving 3,648 lives in the process. Behind the scenes, SLSQ educated more than 300,000 people on surf safety through its various community awareness initiatives.