The red and yellow army of volunteer surf lifesavers will return to North Queensland beaches from this weekend, as Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) officially kicks off its 2017 North Queensland patrol season.
The season will see volunteer surf lifesavers from Port Douglas, Ellis Beach, Cairns, Etty Bay, and Mission Beach raise the red and yellow flags on patrol every weekend and public holiday through to the final weekend of November.
The volunteer patrols will complement regular lifeguard services already in place during the week which, as a general rule, will continue as per normal.
Last patrol season, volunteer surf lifesavers from far north Queensland carried out 1,430 preventative actions, treated 371 injured first aid patients, and directly saved the lives of six beachgoers via in-water rescues.
Despite the extra presence of surf lifesavers on the beach, SLSQ North Queensland manager Col Sparkes urged anyone entering the water to remain vigilant about their safety.
“From this weekend, our volunteers will be back on the beach working hard to help make the North Queensland coastline safer,” Mr Sparkes said.
“But 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 not worth the risk with it comes to your health and safety.
“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 remain vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves against Irukandji, box jellyfish, and other dangerous marine stingers.
“We’re still within the high-risk stinger season, and it’s crucial that people are continuing to wear stinger suits or other appropriate clothing to give themselves the best protection against dangerous marine creatures,” Mr Sparkes said.
“Our lifesavers and lifeguards will continue to regularly drag for stingers and, all being well, the nets will hopefully be removed in May.
“As always, the best way to protect yourself is to swim only at patrolled locations and only during the patrol times,” he said.
Mr Sparkes said that people can protect themselves this season 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