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the mercury set to soar, Surf Life Saving Australia is anticipating a busy long weekend as thousands flock to the beach to share in celebrations and beat the heat.

The summer drowning toll shows there has been 34 coastal drowning deaths (1 December 2017 – 22 January 2018), three more than for the same period last summer.

With this in mind, SLSA have put out a long weekend challenge to stay safe in, on and around water.

“We are putting out the challenge to all of Australia to enjoy our amazing beaches and coastlines and go home safely at the end of the day with great memories.” said Melissa King, Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving Australia.

“With so many coastal drowning deaths occurring our surf lifesavers and lifeguards need your help in ensuring no drowning deaths occur this long weekend.”

Over half of the coastal drowning deaths (53%) since December 1 have occurred while swimming, double the number of last summer. Rip currents are believed to have been a contributing factor in approximately 32% of the coastal drowning deaths, five times more than last year.

With 14 fatalities New South Wales have recorded the highest number of coastal drowning deaths for the summer period. Victoria have recorded an additional 10 and South Australia five coastal drowning deaths. These three states account for 85% of the summer coastal drowning deaths.

Warm weather, celebrations and enjoying our beaches may seem the perfect combination to Australia Day, but SLSA wants to make sure beachgoers and boaters ensure their safety and that of their loved ones is top of mind.

The National Coastal Safety Report 2017 shows for the past 13 years (2004-2017) alcohol or drugs has been a contributing factor in at least 19% of all coastal drowning deaths in this time.

“Alcohol impairs your judgement and can encourage risk taking behaviour, as well as altering coordination and reaction time.” Ms King stated.

“With approximately 243 coastal drowning deaths over the past 13 years involving alcohol or drugs, the message is clear- don’t swim if you are going to drink.”

Surf Life Saving Australia urges all heading to the beach to consider the following:

  • Where possible, swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
  • Obey the safety signs at the beach
  • Learn how to identify a rip current and look for rip currents before deciding where to swim
  • If you’re not sure, ask a lifesaver or lifeguard about the beach conditions
  • Wear a lifejacket while boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Don’t go into or on the ocean during severe weather warnings
  • Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety before entering the water
  • Supervise children at all times in, on and around water
  • Swim with a friend and know your limits.

For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit beachsafe.org.au

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