Don’t drink and drown
LIFEGUARDS and the Byron Shire Council have banded together to keep schoolies safe in the ocean with additional lifeguards being employed to watch over them.
Lifeguards and lifesavers will be out reinforcing the 'Don't Drink and Swim' safety message in key holiday hotspots - including Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour - said Scott McCartney, Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator.
Mr McCartney said lifeguards would be "going above and beyond this year" with daily surf safety talks; roving patrols and emphasising safe swimming practices along Byron Main Beach for the entirety of the schoolies period.
"It's important to have a safe and enjoyable time at schoolies, so never mix drugs or alcohol with swimming, don't swim at night; always swim between the red and yellow flags and if you need assistance, don't hesitate to approach the lifeguards," Mr McCartney said.
Looking after the thousands of school leavers soon to descend upon Byron Bay is also a priority for Byron Shire Council said Mayor Simon Richardson yesterday.
Cr Richardson said his council had committed $25,000 to a "Schoolies Package" that included funding lifeguards for Main Beach during the schoolies period.
"We never asked for schoolies and never promoted it, but clearly 17 and 18-year-olds want to come here for schoolies and the council has a responsibility to look after them and keep them safe," Cr Richardson said.
As part of the council's commitment to keeping the schoolies safe, a $25,000 package has been funded by the council that included a $1970 waiver of fees to the Schoolies Hub; portable toilets; increased park cleaning as well as funding an additional lifeguard who will commence on November 18.
Surf lifesavers and lifeguards said they were pleading with young revellers to make surf safety a priority, saying a report had found that almost a third of all drowning deaths in NSW resulted from people swimming after drinking alcohol with 15- to 24-year-olds the most at risk.
- Only swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags.
- Don't swim under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Never swim at night.
- Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice.
- Look after your mates.
- Call '000 - Police' to report an in-water emergency.