Plea for beachgoers to put safety first

A heartbreaking and unprecedented year of tragedy along Queensland’s coastline has sparked a desperate plea from Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) for beachgoers to put safety first at all times.

SLSQ’s 2018/19 Coast Safe Report, released today to coincide with the start of the patrolling season, highlights 21 suspected drowning deaths on Queensland beaches over the past 12 months.


The tragic statistic marks a significant increase from seven drownings the previous year, and is the highest annual tally on record since SLSQ began tracking coastal data.

Shockingly, 12 of the 21 drowning victims were males aged between 51 and 73 years of age.

SLSQ Chief Executive Officer Dave Whimpey said traditionally, it was younger males who had been most at-risk on Queensland beaches.

“Over the past 12 months, there’s been a very clear and strong shift towards an older age group,” Mr Whimpey said.

“We all need to take responsibility for our own safety, so my message for anyone who does fall into this age category is to only swim at patrolled beaches and between the red and yellow flags where we can see you if you get into trouble.

“And if you fall into that older age category – book in for a medical check up as a priority; we’ve seen far too many beachgoers over the years get into trouble after suffering a heart attack or medical episode in the water that could have been identified or prevented.”


While older age groups were heavily represented in this year’s drowning figures, Mr Whimpey said the vital safety warnings issued today were applicable to all beachgoers.

“Tragically, 21 drownings is 21 too many, and the complacency has to end now. We need people swimming between the flags during patrol hours to provide our volunteer surf lifesavers with the best possible chance of rescuing you,” he said.

“More than 80% of rescues performed last year occurred outside of the flags. These people however are the lucky ones as their trip to the beach could have ended very differently had it not been for our lifesavers and lifeguards.

“The reality is though – our resources are stretched and we cannot be everywhere. Make your safety a priority and only enter the water at a patrolled beach. If not for yourself, do it for a loved one.”

Mr Whimpey said this year’s Coast Safe Report also highlighted that 10 of the 21 drownings in 2018/19 had been international visitors.

“This of course saddens us greatly and reinforces the need to communicate our surf safety messaging to both a domestic and international audience,” he said.

“We’re really keen to work closely with key stakeholders, tourism bodies and airlines to help communicate directly with international and domestic tourists.”

This year’s Coast Safe Report was released to coincide with the start of SLSQ’s 2019/20 patrolling season, with thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers set to raise the flags each weekend and public holiday from tomorrow (September 21) through to May.

“Our volunteers do such a wonderful job, and it’s important to remember they’re all volunteers who are giving up their own time to make sure everyone can enjoy their day at the beach and return home safely,” Mr Whimpey said.

In 2018/19, volunteer lifesavers from across Queensland performed 1,381 rescues, 22,974 first aid treatments, and 82,429 preventative actions to protect beachgoers. A total of 319,101 patrol hours were logged over the season.


Post date: 20/09/2019