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Surf Life Saving Queensland are urging swimmers not to be complacent this summer, after eleven people tragically drowned at Queensland beaches during the 2019/20 patrol season.

This statistic was revealed in SLSQ’s 2020 Coast Safe Report, which was released today to coincide with the launch of the 2020/21 volunteer patrol season.

The report revealed that Australians are at risk in the surf, with Australian residents representing 45% of the overall drowning tally.

Lifesavers and lifeguards performed 2,555 rescues, with 89% of those taking place outside the red and yellow flags.

Surprisingly, 80% of those rescued were Australian residents.


Men over the age of 50 have again been identified as an at-risk demographic, with 64% of drowning victims in that category.

Surf Life Saving Queensland CEO Dave Whimpey said the report’s findings served as a reminder to all beachgoers.

“The ocean does not discriminate, alarmingly it is Australians who are getting into the most trouble at our beaches,” Whimpey said.

“As Queenslanders and Australians, we think we know the ocean best but the safest place for anyone to swim and enjoy our beautiful beaches is between the red and yellow flags at patrolled beaches.

“We are expecting our beaches to be absolutely packed this summer, so please help us by following surf lifesavers and lifeguards’ safety advice.”

2020 Coast Safe Report Key Findings:

• During 2019/20 SLSQ patrols (including lifeguards and lifesavers) directly rescued 2,555 swimmers in distress, performed 660,015 preventative actions and 48,688 first aid treatments.

• 11 drowning deaths on Queensland beaches – which is a 52% decrease on the previous year

• 45% of the drowning victims were Australian residents

• 89% of rescues performed by SLSQ patrols were outside the flags, with 80% of those people being rescued Australian

• 57% of the year’s rescues were performed in December and January

• Cause of rescue: Tidal currents 38%, rips 38%, poor swimming ability 7% and other factors 17%

• 73% of the total drowning victims were male

• 64% of the total drowning victims were over the age of 50

From tomorrow SLSQ volunteer surf lifesavers will patrol 57 beaches across the Queensland coastline, with 30 additional lifeguard services provided.

View the full 2020 Coast Safe Report here.

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