Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) is urging school leavers to put safety first and look out for their mates when they hit the beach this week for annual Schoolies celebrations.
Thousands of year 12 graduates are expected to flock to beaches across the state when Schoolies Week celebrations kick off this Saturday and, with that in mind, SLSQ Gold Coast lifesaving services coordinator Nathan Fife implored revellers to exercise some ‘common sense’ while in the water.
“It’s obviously a time to for celebration and relaxation, and there’s no better place to unwind than the beach, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to put safety first and consider the consequences of your actions,” Mr Fife said.
“We realise that beaches may be crowded, but it’s really important that all beachgoers make the effort to swim between the red and yellow flags. The flagged areas are not only the safest spots to swim, but they’re also patrolled by qualified surf lifesavers and lifeguards.
“At the end of the day, we want our Schoolies to enjoy the beach and have a holiday they’ll remember for all the right reasons. I’d hate to see a situation where one moment of madness results in tragedy,” he said.
The red and yellow army of surf lifesavers will be out in force across the state, with regular beach patrols supported by daily dawn patrols on the Gold Coast from 4:30am, and SLSQ’s state-wide after-hours callout service which sees lifesavers placed on stand-by to assist emergency service organisations if required.
SLSQ’s Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will also conduct regular aerial beach patrols and surveillance along South East Queensland’s coastline during the Schoolies celebrations.
“Generally speaking, most Schoolies are really well-behaved but, unfortunately, each year we continue to see people take unnecessary risks by entering the water while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or swimming at night and away from patrolled areas,” Mr Fife said.
“Drinking impairs your judgement and severely slows your reflexes – not a great combination when swimming in the surf. Please be mindful of not putting yourself in a dangerous situation and always remember that your risky behaviour not only impacts you, but can also put other people at risk,” he said.
Schoolies are also encouraged to keep hydration levels up and be sun smart, both of which are also key factors in reducing the risk of fatigue at the beach, particularly if swimmers have consumed alcohol the previous evening.
SLSQ’s community awareness teams have been out in force leading into the annual Schoolies celebrations to educate graduates about how to stay safe and protect themselves while on the beach this summer.