Surf lifesavers are urging beachgoers to stay safe, exercise common sense, and avoid swimming while under the influence of alcohol this New Year’s Eve.
Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) lifesaving coordinator Demi Meredith warned of the potentially-fatal dangers associated with swimming under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and urged anyone heading to the beach to consider the possible consequences of their actions before entering the water.
“We want people to enjoy themselves on the beach but, more importantly, we want them to get home safely,” she said.
“We know there’ll be a lot of people having a few drinks on New Year’s Eve, but we can’t stress enough how dangerous it is to go for a swim while under the influence.
“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,” she said.
Since SLSQ’s 2016/17 patrol season officially commenced in September, its lifesavers and lifeguards have combined to perform in excess of 1.3 million preventative actions to proactively protect beachgoers, treated more than 8,000 first aid patients, and saved 797 lives through in-water rescues.
Lifeguards and lifesavers will be out in force this weekend, with extended patrol hours in operation over the holiday period, and Ms Meredith stressed the importance of swimming only at patrolled locations and during patrol hours.
“Lifesavers and lifeguards will always be there to help while on patrol, but once the flags go down at the end of the day we strongly urge all swimmers to leave the water in the interests of safety,” she said.
“It’s incredibly dangerous to swim at night or at unpatrolled beaches and, tragically, we’ve seen people lose their lives in the past after entering the water after hours.
“Always remember, if we can’t see you we can’t save you,” she said.
Ms Meredith encouraged beachgoers to follow some simple safety tips to help protect themselves this New Year’s Eve:
- Swim between the red and yellow flags
- Look for and follow the advice of safety signs
- Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for some advice before entering the water
- Always swim with a friend where possible, and keep an eye on each other
- If you find yourself in trouble, try to remain calm and put your hand up for help
- Don’t swim at unpatrolled beaches
- Don’t swim at night or after drinking alcohol
- Keep a close eye on children in and around the water