Lifesavers issue surf warning after 100 beachgoers saved in SEQ

Surf lifesavers have renewed calls for beachgoers to exercise caution and common sense in the water this Australia Day, with unstable conditions along the coast likely to continue across the next few days.

More than 100 swimmers were rescued from the deceptively powerful surf on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts across the weekend, and Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) coastal safety officer Chantel Fife said lifesavers would be on high alert again tomorrow.

“More than anything, we’re asking beachgoers to think about their personal safety and swim only between the red and yellow flags, which will be patrolled by lifesavers and lifeguards throughout the day,” Mrs Fife said.

“Australia Day is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for surf lifesavers and lifeguards, with plenty of people looking to cool down in the water.

“There’s no doubt that lifesavers will be on high alert, particularly with the challenging and unpredictable conditions that we’ve seen over the past few days likely to continue,” she said.

SLSQ’s operations support will be out in force, with dawn and roving patrols in some locations, supported by the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service and 24/7 emergency response teams.

Mrs Fife said that surf lifesavers would closely monitor conditions over the course of the day, and close beaches if required.

“The decision to close a beach is one that’s made in the interests of public safety and, if that’s the case, we really urge members of the public to respect that decision and steer clear of the water,” she said.

“In the past few days, we’ve seen some really strong sweeps and flash rips right up and down the coast, which can easily catch swimmers off-guard and take them out of their depth in a matter of seconds.

“Lifesavers will be out in force across the day but, as always, if they can’t see you they can’t save you. We strongly urge all beachgoers to consider that if and when they head into the surf for a swim this Australia Day.”

SLSQ will continue to assist police today with the search for a missing swimmer who entered the water at an unpatrolled stretch of beach on the Sunshine Coast.

Mrs Fife said the best way to protect yourself at the beach this Australia Day was to follow a few simple steps:

• Always swim between the red and yellow flags

• Read and follow the safety signs

• If you’re unsure of the conditions, ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for advice before entering the water

• Always swim with a friend where possible

• If you find yourself in trouble, stick your hand up to attract the attention of lifesavers

• Never swim at night or at unpatrolled locations

• Never swim under the influence of alcohol

• Keep a close eye on children, and always keep them within arm’s reach in the water

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