With the Christmas break shaping up to be a hot one, West Australians are expected to flock to WA’s beaches to cool off with family and friends. However, with coastal drowning deaths up 100% on this time last year, Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) is urging beachgoers to take necessary precautions for themselves and their families to ensure they also go home safely.
“We know that going to the beach on Christmas Day and over the Christmas period is a truly Australian thing to do,” said SLSWA General Manager Lifesaving, Chris Peck.
“But we want to remind people that they need to take basic precautions including swimming at a patrolled beach with the red and yellow flags, swimming with a group, particularly keeping an eye on children, and we also know that swimming and alcohol don’t mix.
“While we want people to go out and enjoy themselves, we want to remind them of the basic beach safety behaviours to ensure they also go home safely at the end of the day.”
There have already been 14 coastal deaths in WA so far this year, a 100% increase on the same time last year, with the bulk of these attributable to activities such as swimming, snorkelling and surfing.
“All too often people overestimate their abilities and underestimate the conditions, and it can only take seconds for a someone to be caught up in a rip and swept out to sea,” said Mr Peck.
“That’s why we continue to remind people to swim between the red and yellow flags, which is the safest place on the beach and where the lifesavers can best see you.”
Mr Peck said that many volunteer surf lifesavers would be putting their hands up to spend time across the Christmas and New Year break watching over beachgoers.
“We encourage people to chat to the lifesavers about the conditions and the best place to swim, and to heed their safety advice when necessary.”
SLSWA’s Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters will also continue daily patrols across WA beaches with the metropolitan-based service covering from Yanchep in the north, to Rottnest Island in the east and Mandurah in the south, while the south west service patrols from Bunbury in the north to Hamelin Bay in the south.
People are also encouraged to take a few extra minutes to plan their trip and find out where patrols are scheduled over the holiday period. SLSWA has a list of beaches with public holiday patrols available on their website at www.mybeach.com.au/public-holiday-patrolled-beaches/
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