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Easter safety warning after tragic summer

April 6, 2023 7:02 am in by

NSW Surf Lifesavers and Marine Rescue NSW are urging people to take care around the water this Easter long weekend as volunteers prepare for the biggest weekend since the worst summer in NSW history.

It comes after a man drowned at Narooma yesterday afternoon to bring the year-to-date drowning toll to 45 for NSW.

At approximately 11.33am on Wednesday (April 5) the SLS NSW State Operations Centre was made aware of an incident involving an overturned vessel at Narooma Bar.

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One female was alert, conscious and breathing on the shore however a male who was pulled from the water by the Narooma SLSC Call Out Team in an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB), was declared deceased at then scene after CPR was conducted.

The drowning comes as Easter and the school holidays approach, with lifesavers and lifeguards patrolling through until ANZAC Day (Tuesday April 25).

Between 1 December 2022 and 28 February 2023, 28 coastal drownings were recorded in NSW.

This eclipsed last summer as the highest drowning toll over the three month period in NSW history.

With temperatures set to hit mid-to-high 20s in certain parts of the state on Friday and Saturday, volunteer lifesavers are expecting large crowds to descend on our beaches.

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A cold front should then hit, driving temperatures down and bringing rain across NSW on Sunday.

However, lifesavers are still on high alert as long weekends and, more specifically, public holidays, traditionally bring heightened risk.

In general, coastal drowning risk is more than two times greater on public holidays.

“The volunteer patrol season ends in just a couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean we are taking an easy approach this weekend,” said Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Lifesaving Joel Wiseman.

“We strongly advise people to head to a patrolled location and please wear a lifejacket if you are fishing.

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“Our volunteers are out in force over the next few days and our Support Operations teams are conducting extra roving patrols using jetskis and drones so we are really throwing everything we can at keeping people safe this weekend.”

In the weeks following, Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) lifeguards will be patrolling right throughout the school holidays in Council regions across the state. Patrol hours for lifeguards are Monday to Friday, 9-5PM.

Council locations include Mollymook.

To find your nearest patrolled beach, visit www.beachsafe.org.au or download the Beachsafe App.

Meanwhile, Marine Rescue NSW is urging all boaters be extra careful when they’re out on the state’s waterways this Easter long weekend.

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Marine Rescue volunteers across NSW have conducted 1,675 rescue missions in the first three months this year and 425 rescues in March including 17 on the Far South Coast (7 Batemans Bay, 6 Eden, 4 Merimbula), returning 920 boaters to shore. The number of rescue missions in March was down slightly from 478 in February.

MRNSW Commissioner, Alex Barrell, said he was hoping boaters play their role to avoid incidents.

“We’ve seen far too much trauma on our coastline this summer, my hope is that we get through this Easter weekend with no fatalities or serious injuries,” Commissioner Barrell said.

Mr Barrell said good preparation is the key to safely enjoying time on the state’s waterways.

“Make sure you’ve planned your voyage,” Mr Barrell said.

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“Simple checks of making sure that your boat is in good working order before you leave the boat ramp, checking that you have the right safety equipment, checking that you have the right amount of fuel for your voyage can prevent a good day on the water turning to a bad day on the water,” he said.

Mr Barrell said it is very important that boaters Log On with their local Marine Rescue base or use the Marine Rescue NSW app.

“One simple step that any boater can take is to Log On with Marine Rescue either over VHF marine channel 16 or via the free Marine Rescue app.

“It’a simple step and what it means is if you don’t return as planned Marine Rescue will start looking for you,” Commissioner Barrell said.

Marine Rescue NSW volunteers conducted 159 rescues over the Easter long weekend last year with incidents occurring along the coastline from Point Danger to Eden and inland on the Murray River at Moama.

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Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to supporting local communities.

Images: Marine Rescue NSW, James Fennessy – East Coast Radio

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