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Byron Shire
March 21, 2023

Summer alert as drowning toll rises

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The water is not a safe place for everyone in the summer months and the overnight drowning of a toddler in a pool in Western Sydney and two children pulled from a coastal lagoon at Avoca has heightened concerns for surf lifesavers after a spate of summer drownings.

Nationally the drowning toll is around 55 people, up significantly from last year and being recorded across all waterways – beaches, lakes, rivers and pools.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce says the organisation is throwing everything at the epidemic, however with the system already in stress as people flock to aquatic environments to escape the summer heat, keeping people safe is becoming a real concern.

‘We are seeing more and more fatalities and near misses and our lifesavers and lifeguards are being pushed to the limit,’ said Steven Pearce.

‘The hot weather has meant a big increase in beach visitations which is putting pressure on the limited resources of our volunteers.’

Swimming at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags and being vigilant with the supervision of children around water are the key messages lifesavers are imploring people to understand.

‘The tragedies unfolding every day across our waterways is heart-breaking for families, communities and our rescuers. We will continue to do what we can to keep people safe but we need your help,’ he said.

‘Swim where we can see you, don’t leave children on their own around water, even for a second and be realistic about your swimming abilities and those of your family.’

Surf Lifesavers are stretched to capacity with rescues up significantly over the holidays. More than 1000 people have been rescued on NSW beaches since Christmas, with several weeks of peak holiday period to go until school returns.

Beach Safety Tips

•Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website.

•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.

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