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Lifesavers urge caution this New Year

Surf lifesavers are imploring beachgoers to stay safe and swim between the red and yellow flags across the New Year holiday period.

SLSQ lifesaving services manager Peta Lawlor is calling on swimmers to take responsibility for their own actions, warning of the dangers associated with entering the surf while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Australians love to celebrate and there’ll obviously be people looking to have a few drinks in the process but, at the end of the day, we don’t want people trying to bring the party to the beach and mixing alcohol with a swim,” she said.

“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.

“At the end of the day we want beachgoers to begin the New Year with fond memories – we certainly don’t want someone making a rash decision about their safety which they’ll eventually regret.”

With plenty of people expected to hit the beach over the weekend, Ms Lawlor said it was particularly important for swimmers to put safety first.

“It’s important that swimmers exercise caution and we obviously discourage anyone from entering the surf unless there is an active patrol on duty, which will be signified by the red and yellow flags,” she said.

“It’s been great to see so many people swimming between the flags this holiday period, and we hope that continues to be the case. It’s really important that people continue to follow the advice of surf lifesavers throughout the remainder of the school holidays.

“Also be sun safe even if it’s overcast or raining, so slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, wrap on sunglasses and drink plenty of water.”

Ms Lawlor encouraged beach visitors to follow these simple guidelines to enjoy an incident-free day at the beach:

1. Swim between the red and yellow flags

2. Look for and follow the advice of safety signs

3. Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for some good advice

4. Always swim with a friend where possible

5. If you find yourself in trouble, stick your hand up for help

6. Don’t swim at unpatrolled beaches

7. Don’t swim at night or after drinking alcohol

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