Hi-tech cameras to catch midnight swimmers
LIFESAVERS will patrol Byron Bay's beaches with thermal imaging cameras and four wheel drives on New Year's Eve in a bid to prevent more tragic deaths at sea.
Paid lifeguards will patrol Main Beach from 8pm to 2am on the night, as in previous years.
However, this year they will be joined by operations support personnel from Surf Life Saving Far North Coast, who will have forward looking infrared cameras (FIRCs) and two four wheel drives at their disposal.
The FIRCs allow lifesavers to assess the location and number of people in the water in the dark, said SLS Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keough.
They can also be used to scan the beach to track the movements of people in less crowded areas.
As well as preparing for New Year's Even, Mr Keough said lifesavers were also bracing themselves for a run of busy days with the imminent heat wave.
He urged people not to be complacent, noting there had been a huge spike in tragic, drownings in recent days.
"It's been a very tragic season for drownings (so far)," Mr Krough said.
Since Boxing Day, there have been five tragic deaths at beaches in NSW, including a death at Wooli on Boxing Day, and Byron Bay yesterday.
Two other drownings have been recorded in rivers across the state.
Mr Keough said there was simply no room for complacency, and people should swim between the flags at all times.
"We're asking people to take responsibility for their actions," he said.
"If we can't see you, we can't save you."
All patrolled beaches will have lifeguards on them during the week from 8am to 5pm, or 6pm at Main Beach in Byron, and lifesavers on weekends and public holidays.