Despite warnings issued by Surf Life Saving agencies around Australia, Police, Emergency Services and the Bureau of Meteorology about safety considerations, nine lives have been lost at various locations around Australia including a father and five-year-old daughter in South Australia and two surf lifesavers who lost their lives while performing a rescue in Victoria.
After the worst summer (December – February) recorded in 15 years by Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA), the tragic loss of life during the Easter and Anzac Day holiday period, SLSA is asking all visitors to the coast (and other aquatic locations) to stop and consider their safety.
“The incredible loss of life during these two holiday periods (Christmas and Easter) is shocking.” said Adam Weir, CEO Surf Life Saving Australia. “We need all coastal users to stop and consider where they are going and their actions. In nearly all situations these incidents were preventable.”
Surf lifesavers at many locations around Australia have now finished or are finishing volunteer patrols for the season. However, will continue to respond to incidents and provide rescue services all year round. Some areas may continue to provide paid lifeguard services however, visitors should check with their local council/land manager.
Surf lifesavers continue to provide over 1 million volunteer patrol hours and perform more than 10,000 rescues annually.
“The demands on our volunteer surf lifesavers continues to increase; and to the credit of all they keep on delivering essential emergency service and lifesaving duties at all times of the day and night.” Said Mr Weir. “We thank all our members for the time they have given, the commitment they have made and for the efforts on providing rescue, first aid, preventative actions and safety to the beach going public, thank you.”
“We are seeking all to heed safety advice and signs but also take a moment to check for dangers.” Said Shane Daw, National Coastal Risk & Safety Manager. “We also ask people to swim at patrolled locations, don’t risk your life, that of family or friends, or that of strangers and rescue personnel who may be called to assist you.”
“The unnecessary risks that people have taken that has cost their lives; and in other situations that of those going to rescue them; all which have significant impacts with family, loved ones, friends having to live with this loss every day. Having two surf lifesavers lose their lives in the line of duty is devastating and felt by the entire organisation.” Said Mr Daw.
SLSA is asking all aquatic users to use the STOP, LOOK and PLAN process every time they think about heading to the water. These three steps could save your life:
- STOP: don’t rush in, check the area for rips (if you know how to identify one – it can be hard)
- LOOK: are there other hazards such as waves, rocks
- PLAN: have a plan in place, find a patrolled beach, know what to do if something does go wrong.
Surf Life Saving Australia urges all heading to the beach to consider the following as part of their STOP, LOOK and PLAN process:
- 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.
For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit beachsafe.org.au