Warning for Australia Day beachgoers as drownings rise


Beachgoers have been urged to take extra precautions this Australia Day as temperatures will rise across the country on Thursday.

It’s been a deadly summer so far, with at least 48 people drowning since December 1.

Recently, a Queensland man, in his 50s, died Tuesday afternoon while swimming near Crescent Head in New South Wales.

In Victoria, a man died in shallow water at a boat ramp on the Great Ocean Road.

The death toll is expected to rise again in the summer on Australia Day.

According to research from the Royal Life Saving Society, drownings nearly double on public holidays and long weekends.

However, on Australia Day, that risk doubles – with swimmers more than four times more likely to drown on coastal beaches.

With beautiful weather forecasts for most capital cities, the beaches will almost certainly be overcrowded.

According to Weatherzone, the mercury will rise above 30 degrees Celsius in five of the major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Darwin, and reach 29 degrees in Adelaide.

Meanwhile Melbourne will get pleasant weather with a maximum of 22 degrees, with 21 degrees in Hobart.

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Be careful

Of the 48 deaths reported this summer, Royal Surf Life Saving Australia said most of these deaths were men aged between 18 and 64.

Many of these men died trying to save their children, and several were injured.

Justin Scarr, CEO of Royal Life Saving Society, implored people to be careful with water, even if they are confident in their ability to stay afloat.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a number of people drown trying to save family members and were swimming alone,” he said.

“If you see someone in trouble, get help as soon as possible and alert the emergency services. We want everyone to have a great day out and get home safely.”

Not just swimmers

Authorities have also issued warnings for those hitting the water in boats and other craft.

NSW Marine Area Commander Detective Superintendent Murray Reynolds said the water police would be on patrol.

“With high levels of maritime traffic expected in the port and our waterways, boaters are reminded that the same drink-driving rules apply on the water as on the road,” he said.

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“In addition to compliance checks, the police will conduct drug and alcohol tests, so make sure your vessel is in good working order and that all required safety equipment is on board.

“Drinking alcohol or doing drugs while on or on the water can have a tragic end, so make responsible decisions and take care of your friends.”

Swim between the flags

More than half of the 48 deaths occurred in coastal areas without lifeguards, according to Adam Weir, CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia.

Mr Weir urged beachgoers to make water safety a priority.

“This summer alone we have lost 28 people along our coastline, with all drowning deaths occurring outside the red and yellow flags, either in non-patrolled locations or outside patrol hours,” said Mr Weir.

“Our simple message is: find a patrolled beach and swim between the red and yellow flags if you can.”

More than half of this summer’s drownings occurred in coastal areas without lifeguards. Photo: Getty

The number of fatalities is particularly devastating in Victoria, where there have been 29 drownings since July – four more than the 10-year average.

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About half of those drownings occurred on inland waterways such as rivers, lakes and creeks.

As a result, rescuers will patrol Lakes Lysterfield, Nagambie, Eildon and Waranga on Thursday, as well as 60 coastal areas.

“Our statistics are higher than in the 10-year average. We don’t want those stats to be any higher,” Emergency Services Secretary Jaclyn Symes said Wednesday.

Safety tips for surf rescuers

  1. Swim on a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags. Go to https://beachsafe.org.au/ or download the BeachSafe app to find a patrolled beach
  2. Wear a life jacket when boating, rock fishing, or on a personal watercraft
  3. Avoid alcohol and drugs near water
  4. Always supervise children in, in and around water
  5. Check the weather conditions before heading out
  6. Ask surf lifeguards or lifeguards for advice

TO END: Check for hazards and danger (such as rip currents)

LOOK: For other hazards

PLAN: How to stay safe and swim on a patrolled beach.

-with AAP


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