Increase in drownings prompts warning
A 16% surge in drownings since December including three deaths on the North Coast has prompted surf lifesavers and Marine Rescue to remind people about the dangers of boating and swimming.
Drownings in Aus waters
Between December 1 and 18, the Royal Life Saving Society reported that 59 people drowned in Australian waters - an increase of 16% on the same period in 2014/15.
Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keogh said last week swimmers and a surfer drowned at Lennox Head, Arrawarra and Yamba.
"It has been a very busy period at the start of this year," he said.
"Numerous rescues and aquatic incidents have occurred since the start of this year that have been responded to by life guards."
Second busiest region
Mr Keogh said the Far North Coast was the second busiest region in the state, behind the Sydney metropolitan area, for the number of rescues life guards had conducted.
"On incidents and tasking the Far North Coast has been the busiest region in the state, primarily due to the shark situation," he said.
Rivers dangerous too
Inland waterways claimed the largest number of lives over the summer period, with 20 people or 34% of drowning deaths, compared to 18 people or 31% at beaches and 12 people or 20% in ocean/harbour locations, according to Royal Life Saving Society statistics.
Four in five of those who drowned were men, reflecting longer-term trends showing men drown at four times the rate of women.
Marine Rescue NSW deputy commissioner Dean Storey said wearing a life jacket was the simplest measure people could take to increase their safety when boating.
"It's also essential that skippers always check the weather conditions before they leave and also while they are out on the water," he said.
"Conditions can change rapidly.
"Marine Rescue NSW units broadcast regular weather updates over marine radio.
"You can also check conditions on the MarineRescue mobile app or call or radio your nearest MRNSW unit."