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QLD surf lifesavers urge caution this Australia Day

QLD surf lifesavers are imploring beachgoers to stay safe, take responsibility for their actions and swim between the red and yellow flags this Australia Day.

With early weather forecasts predicting a wet day, Gold Coast lifesaving services coordinator Stuart Hogben said it was particularly important for swimmers to put safety first.

“At this stage, the forecasts are suggesting plenty of rain for the public holiday which could potentially create some unpredictable conditions for beachgoers across the state,” Mr Hogben said.

“It’s important that swimmers exercise caution and we obviously discourage anyone from entering the surf unless there is an active patrol on duty, which will be signified by the red and yellow flags,” he said.

Mr Hogben also urged beachgoers to take responsibility for their actions, warning of the dangers associated with swimming while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Australians love to celebrate a public holiday and there’ll obviously be people looking to have a few drinks in the process but, at the end of the day, we don’t want people trying to bring the party to the beach and mixing alcohol with a swim,” he said.

“People often think they’re invincible after a few drinks but it doesn’t take much to find yourself in trouble. Alcohol can greatly impair your judgement and slows your reflexes – a potentially deadly combination when it comes to the surf.

“Even around the pool it’s important that people continue to put safety first and also keep an eye out for any children who might be swimming at home,” he said.

The weekend following Australia Day marks the final weekend of extended patrol hours across south-east Queensland.

As a rule, from 29 January to 7 May, most Gold Coast beaches will be patrolled by surf lifesavers from 8am-5pm on weekends and public holidays, compared to 7am-6pm during the summer holiday period. Gold Coast City Council Lifeguards and Sunshine Coast Council Lifeguards will remain on daily patrol.

Mr Hogben said despite the peak summer patrol season coming to an end following this weekend, beachgoers still need to be careful in the water.

He encouraged beach visitors to follow these simple guidelines to enjoy an incident-free day at the beach:
  * Swim between the red and yellow flags
  * Look for and follow the advice of safety signs
  * Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for some good advice
  * Swim with a friend Stick your hand up for help
  * Don’t swim at unpatrolled beaches
  * Don’t swim at night or after drinking alcohol