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 secondary school graduates are set to flock to beaches across the state when Schoolies Week kicks off this Saturday and, with that in mind, SLSQ Gold Coast lifesaving services coordinator Nathan Fife implored revellers to exercise ‘common sense’ while in the water.
“It’s obviously a time for celebration and relaxation and there’ll be plenty of graduates eager to kick back after a big year of study, but I can’t stress enough just how important it is to put safety first at all times and consider the consequences of your actions when entering the water,” Mr Fife said.
“While the majority of Schoolies are really well behaved, each year there are always some who take unnecessary risks and put themselves and others in danger by entering the surf at unpatrolled locations, swimming at night, or swimming under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Tragically, we’ve seen plenty of times in the past where high-risk behaviour such as this has resulted in serious injury or drowning.
“At the end of the day, we want Schoolies to enjoy the beach safely and have a holiday that they’ll look back on and remember for all the right reasons. I’d hate to see a situation where one rash decision or a single moment of madness ends 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.
“The best advice that we can give Schoolies when it comes to the surf is to always swim between the red and yellow flags, which are the safest possible places on the beach and are patrolled by lifeguards and surf lifesavers,” Mr Fife said.
“We realise that beaches may be crowded, but it’s really important that all beachgoers make the effort to swim at patrolled locations. 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.
Mr Fife warned people against swimming at night and in the early hours, which carried greater risks of diminished reflexes, rips and gutters, and shark activity.
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.
To help ensure Schoolies remains incident free, there are some simple preventative actions school leavers can take to make sure their stay is safe and enjoyable.
• Always swim between the red and yellow flags
• Look at and follow the safety signs
• Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
• Get a friend to swim with you
• Signal with your hand for help if you get into trouble
• Don’t sleep on the sand
• Never swim at night or under the influence of alcohol and drugs