Following the death of a 56-year-old man at Merry Beach, Kioloa, police and surf lifesavers are reminding swimmers to make safety a priority.
Boxing Day was a tragic day in the water, with four people drowning across NSW.
Marine Area Commander superintendent Mark Hutchings said the key to water safety is assessing the environment and taking simple precautions.
“Whether you’re going to the beach, a river, lake or swimming pool, it’s important to know the conditions and possible hazards in the area,” Supt Hutchings said.
“At the beach, surf lifesavers and lifeguards do most of this for you and set up the red and yellow flags to show you where it’s safer, so always listen to their directions.”
If you’ve been drinking, you’re not going swimming: alcohol and water don’t mix.- Supt Mark Hutchings
Many drownings and near-drownings could be prevented if safety messages from police, lifesavers and maritime authorities were observed Supt Hutchings said.
“It is also important to know your own capabilities.
“If you’ve been drinking, you’re not going swimming: alcohol and water don’t mix,” Supt Hutchings said.
With four drownings already recorded in NSW waters over the festive period, Surf Life Saving NSW operations manager Andy Kent has pleaded with the public to take care while enjoying all that the beach has to offer.
“These drownings are a sobering reminder of the power of the ocean environment,” Mr Kent said.
“It reiterates why it is so important to swim at a patrolled location and between the red and yellow flags.” .
Last season there were 53 coastal drownings in NSW, the highest on record, with 60 per cent of these occurring at a distance of 5km or more from the nearest lifesaving service.
“It is concerning the message of swimming at a patrolled beach doesn’t always appear to be getting through,” Mr Kent said.
“We have surf life saving assets capable of responding to all coastal emergencies, but it can take time to get to you.
“Lifesavers want everyone to enjoy the beach safely, and that will always remain our highest priority.”
Tips for keeping safe at the beach:
* Always swim between the red and yellow flags
* Read and observe the safety signs
* Ask a lifesaver/lifeguard for safety advice
* Always swim with someone else and look out for each other
* Always supervise children around the water
* Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
* Learn how to identify a rip
* If you need help, stay calm and attract attention
* If witnessing an in-water emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for police
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.