The red and yellow army of surf lifesavers will recommence patrols on the region’s beaches this Easter Friday as Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) kicks off its 2015 North Queensland volunteer patrol season.
The volunteer surf lifesaving patrol season runs from Friday 3 April through to the final weekend in November, with patrols taking place every weekend and public holiday during this period.
Patrols will kick off in time for the peak Easter period, with surf lifesavers at Cairns, Ellis Beach, Port Douglas, Etty Bay and Mission Beach set to patrol from 9am to 6pm across the long-weekend.
The volunteer patrols will complement regular lifeguard services already in place during the week which, as a general rule, will continue as normal.
Last patrol season, volunteer surf lifesavers in far north Queensland carried out 1,277 preventative actions, 50 major first aid treatments and saved three lives in the process.
SLSQ North Queensland manager Col Sparkes reminded swimmers to remain vigilant, despite the extra presence of surf lifesavers on local beaches.
“From this Easter long weekend, our volunteer surf lifesavers will be on the beach working towards making the North Queensland coastline safer,” Mr Sparkes said.
“Traditionally speaking, the Easter period is one of the busiest times of the year on patrol as swimmers look to make the most of the four-day weekend.”
Tragically however, in the past, it has also been one of the worst times of the year for drownings in Queensland, behind the peak months over the Christmas and New Year period.
“Sadly there have been seven beach related drownings on Queensland beaches so far this season and, as far as we’re concerned, this is seven too many,” Mr Sparkes said.
“The saddest part is that all of these drownings have occurred either at night or outside the red and yellow flags, which really highlights the importance of swimming at an open beach which is actively patrolled by lifeguards and lifesavers.
“It’s really important that people don’t become complacent about their safety – just one lapse of judgement could have potentially fatal consequences and, when all’s said and done, it’s just not worth the risk when it comes to your safety and wellbeing,” he said.
“When the beaches are busy, it’s important that everyone makes a special effort to respect each other in the water. Even if it becomes a little crowded between the red and yellow flags, we urge swimmers to stay between them and within the stinger nets, because it’s the safest place to be.”
Mr Sparkes has also urged swimmers to take note of any safety signs and heed the advice of lifeguards and lifesavers on duty.
“It’s also crucial that people continue to wear their stinger suits to give themselves the best protection against dangerous marine creatures. We will continue to carry out drags for stingers and we are expecting to be able to remove the nets in May,” he said.
Mr Sparkes said people can stay safe while enjoying the beach, by adhering to the following simple preventative measures:
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags (and within stinger enclosures where available)
- Read and follow the safety signs
- Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
- Get a friend to swim with you
- Stick your hand up for help
- Don’t swim at night or in the early hours of the morning
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs