The nation’s peak lifeguard group has warned Splendour in the Grass festival goers not to mix the deadly combination of alcohol, drugs and swimming during the event over the next three days.
With thousands of young music fans from all parts of the country descending on Byron shire today and warm, balmy conditions forecast, the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) and Far North Coast Surf Lifesaving are planning for one of their busiest weekends since summer’s end.
Lifeguards from the ALS NSW will be on duty each day at Byron Bay’s Main Beach which is currently the only patrolled beach on the NSW Far North Coast, and a popular spot for revellers to cool off after a day at the festival.
Main Beach will be patrolled from 9am- 5pm each day.
ALS northern coordinator Scott McCartney is urging festival goers not to take any unnecessary risks and swim at a patrolled location.
‘Splendour in the Grass is a great local event which brings in huge crowds, including those who might not necessarily be familiar with our unique local conditions,’ Mr McCartney said.
‘We strongly encourage all visitors to come to Main Beach and swim at a patrolled location. Lifeguards are there to help and will be looking out for the welfare of all beach users,’ he said.
With the 2015/16 NSW drowning toll the highest in many years and with most tragedies occurring at unpatrolled locations, the push to get people to reduce risk-taking behaviour this weekend is the focus.
‘It’s really a simple message that we want to get across to everyone. Water, drugs and alcohol simply don’t mix,’ Surf Life Saving Far North Coast emergency services coordinator Jimmy Keough said in a pointed warning to the expected influx of visitors.
‘Dangerous situations both in the water and on the beach can escalate quickly, which puts Lifeguards and our volunteer rescue and callout teams who respond at risk as well,’ Mr Keough said.
‘We want everyone to enjoy the festival and get home safely so the best advice we can give is look after your mates and think twice before taking any risk.’
Police and emergency services will be out in force throughout the weekend, with Far North Coast Surf Life Saving volunteers, including on-call support operations from the Brunswick area ,on hand to respond to any coastal emergencies if required.
General beach safety tips:
- Always swim at patrolled beaches
- Swim between the red and yellow flags. They mark the safer area for swimming
- Never swim, surf or fish alone
- Read and obey the signs
- Be aware of rip currents (know how to spot one and how to escape from one)
- Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Never run or dive in the water, even if you have checked before as water conditions can change
- If in doubt stay out
- Seek advice from Lifeguards