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Byron Shire
March 29, 2023

Surf lifesavers navigate shocking week as drowning toll soars

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Seven drownings in six days marked a devastating week on the state’s coastline which saw the coastal drowning toll for the summer to date soar to 23.

The period from 7-13 February saw three coastal drownings on the state’s Central Coast, and single drownings on the North Coast, Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and the Far South Coast.

Yesterday, just before 6PM, the seventh drowning in less than a week occurred at Kiama when a man was washed out to sea by a large wave while swimming at the Kiama Blowhole rock pool.

Image from Surf Life Saving Australia Facebook page.

Surf Life Saving NSW assets were tasked once the SLSNSW State Operations Centre (SOC) became aware of the job, however the man was pulled into shore by a member of the public.

CPR was performed on the rock platform however the man was declared deceased at the scene.

It means we have now seen nine drownings in February and the coastal drowning toll for the period dating July 1-now sits at 35.

Specific to summer, the 23 drownings we have seen since December 1 surpassing last year’s figure for the same period – a year in which drowning figures reached a record high.

‘The last week has been terrible for a number of families across the state who didn’t have their loved ones return home to them,’ SLSNSW CEO, Steve Pearce said.

‘This has been one of our worst summers on record and while the holiday period may have ended, we are still seeing huge beach visitation numbers and, tragically, the coastal drowning figure continues to rise.

‘I must reiterate a very familiar message – if you are planning a trip to the coastline, please do so by visiting a patrolled location and swimming 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. LOOK for RIPS and don’t go anywhere near them..
    Line two rips up, then venture between them, walking against any sideways current until reaching the null point between the feeds to the rips at each side of you. Then, maybe have a swim in the shallows, keeping watch for any change.
    Some days, like lately, there are no noticeable rips, but the incoming and outgoing surges are huge, so be very aware.
    Often, it’s just not worth risking for a bit of a cool off, unless you stay obviously safe.


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