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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Police, lifesavers and rescuers implore public to keep safe on NSW waterways

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As the weather heats up and people flock to the state’s waterways to cool down, NSW Police, Surf Life Saving NSW and Marine Rescue are urging the community to make safety the priority when in, on or around the water.

Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Murray Reynolds, said police do not want to see any tragedies in or on our waterways throughout the holiday season and over the summer months.

‘We want everyone to be safe and have fun this summer, so whether you’re at the beach, a river, lake or swimming pool, it is important to know the conditions and possible hazards that you may encounter,’ Supt Reynolds said.

‘We also strongly urge boat skippers and jetski riders to be aware of swimmers and to heed speed limits when out on the water – speeding and riding too close to swimmers is not only dangerous but will see you issued a fine.

‘And remember – if you’ve been drinking, do not swim as alcohol and water do not mix. The last thing anyone wants to see is that kind of terrible loss of life around our waterways – particularly at Christmas – so please, act responsibly and look out for your mates.”

Surf Life Saving NSW’s Director of Lifesaving, Joel Wiseman, urged beachgoers to remember always swim between the red and yellow flags.

‘We are reminding people about the power of the ocean environment and of just how quickly things can change, which is why it is so important to swim at a patrolled location and between the red and yellow flags,’ Mr Wiseman said.

‘If you are caught in a rip current, the number one priority is to remain calm and conserve your energy. Attract the attention of a lifesaver or lifeguard and wait to be rescued. If you are a competent swimmer, you can escape the rip by swimming parallel to the shore.

‘Lifesavers want everyone to enjoy the beach safely, and that will always remain our highest priority, but we really want people to take heed of the safety messages and watch out for their own and others safety.’

Marine Rescue’s Acting Commissioner Alex Burrell implored the community to follow all relevant safety advice to ensure everyone had an enjoyable outing across the state’s waterways.

‘The appearance of many inland waterways, including rivers and dams, can be deceiving, such as the depth, current, temperature or submerged objects, so it is important to check before you get in – or you might be caught out,’ A/Commissioner Burrell said.

‘Be aware of all conditions – water conditions and the weather can be unpredictable. We strongly urge people to be mindful of rips and changes, and do not swim at night.

‘It is also important to follow directions given by authorities whether it be police, lifesavers or maritime, know your own capabilities and properly supervise any children and loves ones in the water.

Tips for keeping safe in or on NSW waterways:

  • Only swim in waterways that are patrolled – swim between the red and yellow flags and always listen to advice from lifeguards
  • Read and observe the safety signs
  • If you cannot swim, do not go into the water
  • Wear a life jacket, whether you are on a boat or out fishing
  • Always swim with someone else and look out for each other
  • Always supervise children around the water
  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Learn how to identify a rip
  • If you need help, stay calm and attract attention
  • Always wear a lifejacket while boating or rock-fishing
  • If witnessing an in-water emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for police.

More information about water safety in NSW is available at www.watersafety.nsw.gov.au

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