Lifesavers urge the drunk to stay out of the water

BOOZY and drug-buzzed swimmers are putting their lives at risk at our beaches, with Surf Lifesavers and lifeguards warning people to stay out of the water if intoxicated.

Tens of thousands of lifesavers and lifeguards will be patrolling the New South Wales and Queensland coastline in coming weeks, as holidaymakers from across the country rush to escape the heat and enjoy the break.

For Far North NSW patrols, the coming week is likely to be a chaotic one..

Up to 25,000 festival-lovers per day will head to Byron Bay's first Falls Festival, about 20 minutes north from the town centre

The sold-out event will start tomorrow [DEC31] and run until Friday (Jan30).

The festival will be less than 10km from the seaside town of Brunswick Heads which, with a population of less than 2000, will be quickly swamped by the torrent of human traffic into the area.

The region's Surf Life Saving NSW duty officer Jimmy Keogh will be responsible for protecting swimmers from the ocean and from themselves.

"The big challenge is the sheer population we're going to have in the area," he said.

"People need to be calm and take their time."

Mr Keogh said drug-use and drink "can be a major issue, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas and New Years' period".

"We're asking people to take care.

"If you are drug or alcohol-affected, you're going to expose yourself to severe danger if you're going to attempt to go swimming.

"You risk dire effects if you get into difficulty."

Surf Life Saving Queensland manager Peta Lawlor backed her southern counterpart, saying her message was "definitely do not enter" the water after a few drinks.

Ms Lawlor said the state's 59 clubs, supported by two patrol helicopters for the south-east, would watch the hordes this summer.

She said the influx of people and the number of new amateurs using boogie boards or stand-up paddle boards after Christmas were two major things volunteers were watching.

"Some of these beaches have hundreds on the beach at one time," she said.

"If the weather continues to be what it is at the moment, I'd say we'll have a very busy Christmas and New Year and hopefully a very positive one too.".

BEACHES BY THE NUMBERS:

30 - the millions who visit Qld beaches each year.

6.4 - the millions who visit NSW beaches each year

46 - number of thousands of volunteer lifesavers, lifeguards on patrol over Christmas holidays.

8188 - Times first aid has been given nationally by lifesavers since July 1.

14 - number of equivalent rescues per day nationally by SLSA since July 1.



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