Warm weather prompts lifesavers’ warning

WITH just four weekends remaining before the flags come down on beaches around the state at the end of the 2015/16 Patrol Season, volunteer lifesavers have issued a plea for beach users to take their safety seriously after a recent spike in coastal drownings.

The statistics make for sobering reading.

Since January there have been 27 coastal drownings in 91 days - an average of one almost every three days, including three in the last week alone.

NSW Lifesaving Manager Andy Kent said this week's incidents are a tragic reminder to everyone about just how quickly a situation can deteriorate in the water.

"It's been a difficult period for our volunteers who all do a fantastic job under very trying circumstances. What these drowning statistics highlight is just how quickly things can escalate in an emergency situation in the ocean environment," Mr Kent said.

"We make no apologies for continuing to stress the importance of our beach safety messages as it appears sadly that sometimes they aren't getting through.

"It's important that people know their limitations, check the conditions before heading out, make the effort to go to a patrolled location and take all safety messages and weather warnings seriously."

Of the 40 drownings that have occurred since July 2015, 15 have been swimmers, with the victim often getting into difficulty in a rip current. This is followed by diving and snorkelling-related and rock fishing accidents.

The warm start to autumn has resulted in an increase in crowds at beaches around NSW with the surge in numbers expected to continue into the upcoming school holidays, and with many people flocking to an unfamiliar beach, the warnings about knowing your environment take on greater importance.

Volunteer lifesavers will be patrolling beaches around NSW each weekend and public holiday until Monday, April 25.

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