Surf Life Saving clubs up and down the coast will reinstate their iconic red and yellow flags this weekend as the NSW Government urges beachgoers to take extra care this summer.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant and Manly MP James Griffin joined Surf Life Savers and Nippers today to raise the flags at North Steyne Surf Life Saving Club, marking the start of the volunteer patrol season.
Surf Life Saving patrols will begin along the coast on Saturday, with more than 20,000 volunteers contributing their time to keep people safe on NSW beaches each weekend and public holiday, through until 29 April.
“Surf Life Saving volunteers play a vital role in keeping us safe and I sincerely thank every volunteer for their vigilance and commitment,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The NSW Government is investing millions of dollars and working closely with Surf Life Saving NSW to prevent drowning deaths. Measures such as our Active Kids program are also helping more children to learn how to swim and be confident around water.
“But we also need people to take responsibility for their own safety this summer. The advice is simple - always swim at patrolled beaches, swim between the flags and watch your children closely when they are near the water.”
Overall drowning deaths in NSW, including those at beaches, estuaries, inland waterways and in backyard pools, fell for the second successive year in 2017/18.
There were 87 drowning deaths in NSW last year, down from 93 in 2016/17 and 107 in 2011.
But the NSW Coastal Safety Report released today shows there were 39 drowning deaths on the NSW coast in 2017/18 - six more than a year prior and just above the 10-year average figure of 38.
Mr Grant said despite ongoing water safety education by Surf Life Saving NSW, young men in their 20s and 30s continue to drown at a much higher rate than any other age group.
“It’s extremely important that people don’t overestimate their swimming ability while underestimating the water,” said Mr Grant.
“No flags means no lifesavers, so I urge everyone to swim at patrolled beaches, don’t drink alcohol before going for a swim and keep an eye on each other.
“Most drownings are preventable – let’s make this summer a safe one.”
Manly MP James Griffin welcomed the reinstatement of the flags, “Having spent many years as a volunteer patrol member and former junior club captain of Manly Life Saving Club, I appreciate the effort that goes into keeping our beaches safe. Water safety is every family’s priority this summer and we are indebted to the volunteers who patrol our beaches”.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce thanked the Government for its support of Surf Life Saving in NSW and urged the public to observe the key surf safety messages this season to keep themselves and their families safe.
“This season, we want to draw a line in the sand. We share the NSW Government’s concern at the number of coastal drowning deaths that continue to occur along our coast,” he said.
“From this Saturday our volunteers will be back on the beaches, rescuing thousands of people again this season.
“Our message to beachgoers is to stop, think and plan. Don’t swim at unpatrolled locations, know your limitations and learn how to spot and avoid rip currents.”