Paramedics, lifeguards: Be safe on Australia Day

WITH Australia Day celebrations set to happen across the country tomorrow, emergency services and volunteers are asking everyone to have an enjoyable - but safe - time.

On the beach

Australia Day is one of the busiest days of the years for volunteer surf lifesavers who have a simple message for those heading to the beach or coast to celebrate - please swim between the red and yellow flags.

Last year over 500,000 people went to the beach around NSW on the days leading into and including Australia Day.

There were a total of 626 rescues and 685 first aid treatments administered on January 24 and 25, before an additional 48 rescues on Australia Day itself.

Although forecasts suggest a respite from the heat that has been dogging the state for the best part of a fortnight with rain and wind a strong possibility, lifesavers are still gearing up for a busy few days, NSW Lifesaving Manager Andy Kent said.

"A visit to the beach is an extremely popular activity on Australia Day and we urge everyone to make sensible decisions so that they can enjoy the beach safely," Mr Kent said.

"Alcohol and swimming aren't a good combination so if you are going to have few drinks please don't go into the water. It's also extremely important to swim at patrolled locations and between the flags.

"During these school holidays we have had a number of incidents where people have got into difficulty at unpatrolled locations, and while we do have callout teams that are well prepared to handle emergency situations, the fact remains it could take us some time to reach you."

Tips For Keeping Safe At The Beach

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags
  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
  • Always wear a lifejacket if you are boating or fishing from rocks
  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police

Advice from paramedics

NSW Ambulance is calling on the public to celebrate the day safely by drinking in moderation and carefully planning public holiday activities.

NSW Ambulance Inspector Jordan Emery said a little common sense will go a long way as thousands of people congregate at private and public celebrations in Sydney and across NSW.

"Australia Day is a time for families and friends to come together and we don't want that to include avoidable trips to hospital," Inspector Emery said.

"Look out for your mates, plan ahead and behave responsibly on Australia Day to make sure you have an enjoyable time and paramedics are free to respond to patients with life-threatening conditions."

During last year's celebrations paramedics responded to many situations where people found themselves in trouble after drinking far too much alcohol.

"If you are going to consume alcohol then please drink in moderation because ending up in an ambulance is not on anyone's Australia Day wish-list," Inspector Emery said.

Many people will celebrate Australia Day in the great outdoors at BBQs, the beach, pools and in the bush. Inspector Emery said planning ahead is of paramount importance to staying safe.

"Last year we were reminded that even the simple Australia Day BBQ can be dangerous when a 60-year-old male was severely burnt after a gas bottle exploded," Inspector Emery said.

"A 57-year-old female was also hospitalised when she fractured her ankle in bushland at Ku-Ring-Gai."

Anyone venturing into bushland should equip themselves with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon and ensure they tell friends and the local police station where they intend to go.

"Some injuries cannot be avoided but by planning ahead and following simple advice you will greatly increase your chances of staying safe this Australia Day," Inspector Emery said.

NSW Ambulance offers the following advice for Australia Day:

  • Make sure you have sunscreen on hand - don't forget your hat and appropriate clothing.
  • Keep up your fluids if you are out and about - drink plenty of water, take some with you.
  • Try to stay out of the sun, particularly the elderly and the very young.
  • Always check depth and the possibility of submerged objects before diving into water
  • Check your BBQ gas bottle has been stored correctly - check for any leaks or unusual smells
  • Do not use accelerants on your BBQ.


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