With Schoolies Week set to begin across NSW and southern Queensland this weekend, Surf Life Saving is pleading with young revellers to make beach safety a priority.
Surf lifesavers and lifeguards along the East coast will be out to reinforce the ‘Don’t Drink and Swim’ safety message to all school leavers converging on beachside locations for annual end-of-school celebrations.
“Each year schoolies take unnecessary risks by entering the surf, some under the influence of alcohol or drugs, swimming outside the patrolled areas and outside of patrol hours – sadly, as we have seen, this high risk behaviour can end in tragedy,“ said Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) Chief Operations Officer George Hill.
“We understand this is a time for celebration and we’re not trying to take away from that; however, I would beseech people to consider the consequences that their actions may have on their families and loved ones.”
Mr Hill said school leavers must not become complacent when it comes to their safety and that the most effective beach safety measure is to always swim between the red and yellow flags.
“It’s simple; the flagged areas remain the safest possible place on the beach for swimmers as they are patrolled by lifeguards and surf lifesavers – remember, if surf lifesavers and lifeguards can’t see you, they can’t save you ,” Mr Hill said.
The SLSQ after-hours call out service will be in operation during Schoolies Week in Queensland, with surf lifesavers on stand-by throughout the week to help police and other emergency service organisations, if and as required. Surf lifesavers will also conducting daily dawn patrols along northern Gold Coast beaches.
Mr Hill warned people against swimming at night and in the early hours, which carried greater risks of diminished reflexes, rips and gutters, and shark activity.
Surf lifesavers in the popular NSW destination of Byron Bay are working with local community groups to distribute a range of safety information, and advising young people on how to make their schoolies experience safe and enjoyable.
“Our services will be working hard through the schoolies period and we are preparing our callout teams to respond to after-hours incidents,” said SLSNSW Manager of Lifesaving, Dean Storey.
“At the end of the day, young people need to make smart decisions about where and when they swim and between the red and yellow flags at a patrolled location is the smartest decision they can make.”
Many school leavers are choosing to avoid traditional schoolies hotspots, such as the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, instead visiting smaller towns along the coast. Often, these beaches are unpatrolled during the week and teenagers are urged to take care as tragic drownings continue to occur at unpatrolled locations or after patrol hours.
Schoolies Safety Checklist
• Always swim between the red and yellow flags
• Look at and follow the safety signs
• Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
• Get a friend to swim with you
• Signal with your hand for help if you get into trouble
• Don’t sleep on the sand
• Never swim at night or under the influence of alcohol and drugs
• Call ‘000 – Police’ to report an emergency
For more information contact:
Media and Communication Executive
Surf Life Saving Queensland
(07) 3846 8035
On call mobile: 0419 201 246
Media & Communications Manager
Surf Life Saving NSW
Phone: 0414 414 087