Swimmers kept safe

Surf Life Saving NSW, in partnership with Byron Council, is providing safe flagged swimming areas, undertaking rescues, first-aid treatment and providing surf and beach safety advice, as well as providing an after hours emergency response service on Byron Shire beaches during the holiday season.

 Lifeguards contracted to the council and a support operations fleet of rescue jet skis, duty officers, communication centres ( Surfcom ) and the Ballina jet rescue boat will join volunteers from Far North Coast clubs in protecting beaches from Duranbah through to Yamba.

 “Our lifesaving services play an important part in ensuring the northern NSW coast remains one of Australia’s top summer holiday destinations,” SLSFNC spokesman Michael Gibbs said.

“We’re looking forward to a busy summer and the community can assist us in ensuring they enjoy our beaches in safety. Make sure that you only swim at patrolled beaches. Stay between the red and yellow flags which mark the safe swimming locations.

 “Surf lifesavers and lifeguards are there to make sure you stay safe during the festive season, but it so important that people share the responsibility by not taking silly unnecessary risks.”

Each beach on the Far North Coast has varying surf conditions that can sometimes be dangerous to those who are unfamiliar with a particular beach or break. Following some common sense rules can avert a tragedy.

 Emergency services co-ordinator for the Far North Coast Jimmy Keough believes many incidents could be prevented if swimmers knew more about rip currents and most importantly how to avoid them in the first place.

 “People should always swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags – this is the best way to avoid a rip current, but statistics show some people are flaunting this message and drowning as a result,” Mr Keough said.

Surf Life Saving is focusing on this problem by making patrol information easier to find through the website www.beachsafe.org.au and a new iPhone application.

 You can survive a rip current, by knowing your best options :

• To avoid rip currents, always swim between the red and yellow flags.
• For assistance stay calm, float and raise an arm to attract attention.
• To escape a rip current, swim parallel to the beach.
• Conserve your energy; waves can assist you back to the beach.

 “Surf Life Saving’s key safety message remains - always swim between the red and yellow flags,” said Mr Keough.

 Weekend beach patrols will continue through the summer season and until the end of the autumn school holidays next year.

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