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Byron Shire
February 9, 2023

2023 off to a busy start for surf lifesavers

Latest News

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Surf Life Saving NSW says a man has drowned on the state’s Far South Coast on a day volunteer lifesavers were put under the pump by hot weather and large crowds on the state’s beaches.

The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre was advised at around 1.30pm yesterday, (January 1) a man in his 40s was caught in a rip at Handkerchief Beach – an unpatrolled location in Narooma. The man was recovered by lifesavers from the local club in an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) after they had traveled by water to the location.

CPR was commenced but the man was later declared deceased on scene by NSW Ambulance.

After dealing with numerous requests for assistance through the SLSNSW State Operations Centre over the Christmas period, the New Year has brought about a similar story with another huge day for volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards on our beaches.

Broken Head rescue

On the Far North Coast a successful Search and Rescue operation for a 62-year-old at Broken Head on the Far North Coast saw a man was pulled from the surf by patrol members. He was unconscious but breathing after being dumped by a wave a little before midday. The man would regain consciousness before being transported to Byron Bay Hospital by ambulance.

At 6.20pm, logged rescues tallied 199 for the day – a number that is expected to jump significantly when flags come down – while more than 6,000 preventative actions had been made.

A huge day for volunteers

SLSNSW President, George Shales OAM said it was truly been another huge day for volunteers. ‘The New Year period always proves to be a busy one on our beaches and that has rung true once again today. We will end up with well over 200 rescues logged for the day and that is testament to the fantastic work our volunteers do to keep beachgoers safe.’

Last year across the state, the period between December 2021 and February 2022 claimed the record for the most coastal and ocean drowning deaths over a summer, with 25 fatalities recorded in NSW, despite the higher-than-usual rainfall from La Niña and reduced beach attendances.

In NSW, drowning deaths are 2.7 times more likely to occur on a public holiday and 1.6 times more likely during school holidays. The end of year break, often coupled with celebrating with family and friends, can create a perfect storm.

Mr Shales said the statistics show a need to push the critical surf safety messaging that SLSNSW works year-round to spread through our communities. ‘The most important things to do when considering entering the water is to do so at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.’


  • 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
  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.

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  1. I would add:
    Don’t try to rescue someone unless you have some kind of flotation device with you eg surfboard, body board, rescue tube, even a noodle or Esky top will help. Beg, borrow or steal one if necessary.

    A safe and prosperous New Year to all.


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