Schoolies urged to be safe at beaches
With school leavers descending on NSW's popular coastal towns including Byron Bay, teenagers are being reminded to play it safe while enjoying the ocean.
Lifeguards and lifesavers will be out reinforcing the 'Don't Drink and Swim' safety message in the key holiday hotspots up and down the NSW coast including Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.
The Australian Lifeguard Service has boosted numbers from last weekend to deal with the influx of beachgoers at Schoolies' hot spot, Main Beach in Byron Bay.
"Our lifeguards at Main Beach have seen an increase in beach goers over the last few weeks and they're expecting many more to visit this popular spot from tomorrow," said ALS NSW Manager Brent Manieri.
"At the end of the day, young people need to make smart decisions about where and when they swim, choosing a patrolled beach and swimming between the flags is the smartest decision they can make," he said.
Schoolies are also encouraged to keep hydrated and be sun smart, both of which will help reduce the risk of fatigue at the beach, particularly if swimmers have consumed alcohol the previous evening.
"Schoolies is a busy time for our lifesavers, especially with many taking major risks by swimming outside patrolled areas, under the influence of alcohol and drugs or at night," said NSW Lifesaving Manager, Andy Kent.
"Lifesavers are worried about the possibility of a preventable tragedy if these risks are taken, especially at night time.
"As always our volunteer callout teams are ready to respond to after-hours incidents."
To help ensure Schoolies remains incident free, there are some simple preventative actions school leavers can take to make sure their stay is safe and enjoyable.
Schoolies Safety Checklist:
Only swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
Don't swim under the influence of alcohol/drugs
Never swim at night
Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
Look after your mates
Call '000 - Police' to report an in-water emergency
Visit http://www.beachsafe.org.au for vital information like patrolled beach locations, hours of operation, beach status and surf conditions.