Thousands of swimmers will be kept safe as the red and yellow army returns to the beach this weekend for the start of the 2019 North Queensland volunteer patrol season.
Volunteer surf lifesavers from Port Douglas, Ellis Beach, Cairns, Etty Bay and Mission Beach Surf Life Saving Clubs will now raise the iconic flags every Sunday through to the final weekend of November.
Additionally, Ellis Beach and Cairns (Palm Cove) patrols will return to the sand on Saturday afternoon, with these clubs providing additional patrol hours.
In 2018, North Queensland lifesavers performed 8,984 preventative actions and 265 first aid treatments, including 15 major treatments, while saving the lives of five people via in water rescues.
Surf Life Saving Queensland North Queensland Regional Manager Rob Davidson said the region’s volunteers gave up their precious time every weekend, totaling nearly 7,500 hours, to protect beachgoers.
“The extraordinary efforts of our volunteer lifesavers ensure thousands of locals and tourists alike can enjoy our pristine coastline safely,” he said.
“As our beaches become busier, it is also important that everyone makes an extra effort to remain vigilant while in the water.
“Even if it is crowded between the red and yellow flags, we caution swimmers to stay between them and within the stinger nets, as it’s the safest place to be. If we can’t see you, we can’t save you.”
Mr Davidson did warn that the presence of lifesavers did not replace the need for direct parental supervision.
“Just last month there was a near-fatal drowning at Cairns Lagoon. This terrifying incident provides a shocking and timely reminder of the importance for parents to always directly supervise their children,” he said.
“It’s essential that parents know where there children are at all times. If your child is under five, they must be within arm’s reach. At all times, children must be within your sight and on-hand.”
Mr Davidson said he was expecting another busy season over the next eight months.
“I’m very confident our volunteers are up to the task. In saying this, it’s important all beachgoers, and parents in particular, work with our dedicated volunteers to provide a safe environment that everyone can enjoy.”