Summer warning as drowning death toll climbs to 13
Authorities have urged people to stay safe in the water over the long weekend amid fears the number of lives lost in our waterways this summer could climb following a spate of drownings.
The warning comes after a horror month marred by drownings including the death of 15-year-old Riing Doar, who died while swimming in a rocky waterhole at Kentlyn on Wednesday.
The death of the young Mount Carmel Catholic College student marked the state's thirteenth drowning death this summer.
Over the weekend, Ondrej Ivanic also drowned when his inflatable lilo became wedged on a large submerged rock in the Colo River.
Just weeks earlier, 50-year-old Leonie Jackson lost her life while saving her son from a rip while swimming at Congo Beach on the south coast.
At the start of the year, NSW Police officer Senior Constable Kelly Foster lost her life while attempting to rescue a 24-year-old international student, who also died, after being sucked into a whirlpool at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains.
Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr said it is critical people are careful in the water this summer as the state's death toll climbs with the warmer weather.
"The weather has heated up in recent weeks and we've seen a series of drownings coincide with that," he said.
Nationally, the number of drowning deaths over summer has increased by six on the previous year. And while the toll is down in NSW, Mr Scarr fears this could change if people are not wary.
"Make the right call around water. This means wearing a life jacket while boating, constantly watching children, understanding your own limitations and avoiding taking unnecessary risks, particularly at unpatrolled beaches," he said.
"It's also important to leave your beers at the bank because alcohol is a significant factor in drownings."
It is particularly important to take care in inland waterways, Mr Scarr says, because 62 per cent of drownings occur in these waters.
"Inland waterways can change constantly. There can also be large branches, debris and rocks which can make jumping really dangerous. People also need to make sure they've got the required swimming skills.
"As we've had a number of drownings by rescue, it's also important that people ensure they have strong swimming skills and take something buoyant with them such as an eski lid or ball if they have to rescue someone."
On Thursday, a 17-year-old was left fighting for life after almost drowning at a public pool in Prairiewood. Hours later, two people caught in rough waters in Little Bay had to be rescued.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Dylan Snape said the recent incidents highlighted the importance of people knowing their limits in the water.
"With hot weather expected across the state from tomorrow, it's vital we remain vigilant to the potential dangers around water."
"It only takes a few seconds for anyone to get themselves into serious trouble."
Surf lifesavers are also on high alert with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting heatwave conditions across much of the state.
The effects of hazardous surf over the last few days has also put lifesavers on standby.
"Australia Day is one of the busiest days of the year on our beaches and is always a big day for our volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards. With hot conditions and large swells forecast, we have a very simple message for anyone heading to the coast," said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce.
Originally published as Summer warning as drowning death toll climbs to 13