Tasmanian surf lifesavers will be out in full force around the State from this weekend (Saturday 4th December) through until Easter and offering extended services to the community through the addition of adhoc patrols and rolling out of community education programs statewide. As a perfectly fitting segway into the weekend, Tasmanian’s have been invited to celebrate the inaugural National Water Safety Day by wearing the iconic red and yellow to raise awareness of swimming between the red and yellow flags, where possible. Once again, Surf Life Saving Tasmania Lifeguards will be providing weekday patrols at popular beaches, Clifton beach and Long Beach, Sandy Bay.
With reports of more Tasmanians’ than ever taking to the water, investing in new boats during the COVID-19 pandemic, Surf Life Saving Tasmania and Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) want to reinforce the importance of being prepared to be safe this summer. Through targeted safety campaigns both SLST and MAST aim to reach and educate those amateur boaties with ‘all the gear and no idea’.
Unfortunately, the highest number of drowning deaths occur during the summer period. As more Tasmanian’s holiday at home this summer, and as the days get warmer and we get closer to the boarders opening on 15th December open we are tipped to see tourism flurry, Surf Life Saving Tasmania urges everyone to recreate safely, swim between the flags where possible and don’t take risks. If you’re planning on visiting the beach or other various waterways, Surf Life Saving Tasmania encourages all members of the public to remember the following water safety tips and remember to stay COVID-safe.
Surf Life Saving Tasmania’s Training and Community Programs Manager, Leanne Johannesen said that approximately 1,500 volunteers from Surf Life Saving Clubs (1,004 in 2020/21) and Marine Rescue Units (147 in 2020/21) would be patrolling some of the State’s popular beaches and waterways over the holiday period. Last season, across Tasmania SLST conducted;
“During 2020/21, it was obvious that COVID changed the way we live, including where we recreate, take holidays and the activities we engage in. Many Tasmanians, instead of taking that overseas or interstate trip, chose to holiday at home, creating an increase in both local and regional coastal visitation. Despite COVID-19 restrictions there was an increase in drowning deaths across Australia last year (294), an increase of 20% on the previous year (245) with more than 51% occurring more than 5km from a surf lifesaving service. Summer represents the highest period of time when drownings occur, making up 34% of all drowning deaths in 2020-21.”
“Lightweight craft including sit on top kayaks and other water devices for use at the beach require extra care at this time of year. Young people using these, for instance received as a Christmas gift, are often unfamiliar with these devices and are not aware of the unpredictability of the surf environment. Therefore, special attention needs to be given to preparation of trips and the requirement for personal protective equipment including lifejackets. Also, with reports of so many Australians joining the boating community during the COVID-19 pandemic, coast guards and our volunteer marine rescue volunteers are becoming increasingly worried about inexperienced boat owners pushing their limits to the extreme. Despite 81% of boaters showing “compliancy” to carrying safety equipment, an overwhelming majority of the coastal fatalities and drowning deaths along the Australian coastline were not wearing a lifejacket at the time of death (over 70%).” says Mrs. Johannesen.
SLST has 15 Surf Life Saving Clubs, 7 Volunteer Marine Rescue Groups and 3 Support Operations Groups providing volunteer emergency services 365 days of the year for inland, inshore and offshore waters. Statewide Search and Rescue Operations Teams support Tasmania Police by providing volunteer emergency personnel and resources when tasked. SLST continues to work with a range of partners to implement evidence based intervention strategies to address water safety issues and grow services in required areas.