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SLSQ to boost safety after six drownings last year

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) will boost safety at high-risk and unpatrolled beaches this summer, following a rise in the number of drownings during 2017/18.

On Friday, September 21, the state’s peak authority on aquatic safety will release its 2018 Coast Safe Report, highlighting drowning and safety trends on Queensland beaches and within inland waterways.

It comes as thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers across the state prepare to raise the red and yellow flags for the start of SLSQ’s patrol season.

Roving patrols, mobile emergency beacons, after-hours surveillance, and increased surf safety education are all on the agenda for this summer following six drownings on Queensland beaches in 2017/18, up from four the year before.

Three drownings occurred across the Sunshine Coast region (two at Bribie Island, and one at Sunshine Beach), two occurred in Wide Bay Capricorn (Heron Island and Emu Park), and one within the greater Brisbane region (Wellington Point).

Meanwhile, in the past 10 years, there have been 75 drownings on Queensland beaches, all occurring at unpatrolled locations or outside of designated patrol times.

Individually, Surfers Paradise and Green Island remain the most common beaches for drownings in Queensland with each recording six over the past decade.

SLSQ lifesaving services manager Peta Lawlor said the organisation would continue to ramp up its efforts to boost coastal safety across Queensland.

“There are more patrolled beaches across Queensland than ever before but our data highlights that people are continuing to risk their lives and drown at unpatrolled locations,” she said.

“There have been 75 drownings on Queensland beaches over the past 10 years, and all of these occurred outside of the red and yellow flags.

“Tragically, some drownings were only a few hundred metres from the nearest set of patrol flags.

“It’s obviously a concern for us and an ongoing frustration, but it’s something we’ll continue to address this summer and beyond,” she said.

Following a review of drowning and coastal safety data, SLSQ has identified five high-risk beaches across Queensland, with the organisation set to focus on boosting safety at these blackspot locations.

“We’re looking at all avenues available to increase safety at those high-risk locations this summer, ranging from dusk patrols at Surfers Paradise through to mobile emergency response beacons at remote beaches on the Sunshine Coast,” Ms Lawlor said.

“But our main advice to beachgoers this summer is to swim only at patrolled locations, and only between the red and yellow flags.”

SLSQ’s 2018/19 patrol season officially kicks off on Saturday, 22 September, with thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers set to raise the flags every weekend and public holiday through to May 2019.

To read the 2018 Coast Safe Report, please click here.

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