By Rose Astley
Surf Life Saving Queensland are urging beachgoers to make their safety their first priority this summer, as the last year has seen a large spike in drownings on our beaches.
The last twelve months has seen 21 deaths along the Queensland coastline, and with peak holiday season taking place this weekend, SLSQ Chief Executive Dave Whimpey has urged swimmers to take precautions at the beach.
“Twenty-one drownings on Queensland beaches last season was a devastating outcome and, quite frankly, it’s something we never want to see again,” he said.
“The sad reality is most drownings can be prevented, and our new summer safety campaign highlights how simple and easy choices – such as swimming between the flags – can avert a potential tragedy and spare your loved ones from a lifetime of heartbreak.
“There were a number of drownings last season within 500 metres of a patrol service and you can’t help but think how many of those people would still be alive today if they’d only walked an extra five minutes to find the flags,” Mr Whimpey said.
SLSQ yesterday launched their new 2019/20 Summer Safety Campaign which features a man in his fifties struggling in the surf, seeing as 12 middle aged men have drowned in recent months, this campaign is directed at that demographic.
“In years gone by it’s been younger males who were most ‘at risk’ of drowning but more recently, we’ve seen a clear shift towards older beachgoers,” Mr Whimpey said.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have in the ocean, if you’re not putting safety first, then you’re putting your life on the line.
“A number of drownings last year came after swimmers suffered a medical episode in the water, so we’re also encouraging any beachgoers approaching, or aged over 50, to visit their doctor for regular check-ups.”
Beachgoers can also expect to see the red and yellow flags up for longer hours from 7am to 6pm, allowing more time to stay cool and safe, with lifeguards doing more water patrols via jet skis.
Select patrols will also use drone technology to help amp up the safety, as they’re expecting to see 8.5 million people using the beaches this summer.
SLSQ Manager Aaron Purchase said despite the increased safety measures provided by patrols and rescue services, it is still extremely important that beachgoers consider their own safety this summer.
“It’s summer, the holidays are about to kick off and the temperatures are scorching, so we’re expecting huge crowds over the coming weeks and months,” Mr Purchase said.
“Our surf lifesavers and lifeguards will obviously be working hard to keep everyone safe, but we need your help too.
“We’re urging all beachgoers to swim only at patrolled locations and stay between the red and yellow flags at all times.
“We’ll have extended patrol hours in operation, so there’s plenty of time for everyone to get down to the beach and cool off safely in the surf.”