Having a ball ... Schoolies from Aberdeen in Coffs yesterday, Bru Bailey, Jarrad Baughton, Victoria Meissner, Andrew Thompson,
Having a ball ... Schoolies from Aberdeen in Coffs yesterday, Bru Bailey, Jarrad Baughton, Victoria Meissner, Andrew Thompson,

Play safe

ON the first day of summer Australia's surf life saving movement has sent a clear message to inexperienced swimmers that they are at greatest risk of becoming a drowning statistic over the next three months.

Summer is when a disproportionate number of drownings occur because of inexperienced swimmers not understanding the dangers of the surf, Surf Life Saving Australia chief Brett Williamson said.

However, not all news is bad, with record numbers of Australians getting involved with surf life saving which celebrates its centenary this year.

In the past year there has been an 18 per cent increase in the number of female lifesavers and a 27 per cent increase in the number of nippers, or junior lifesavers.

"The vitality of any organisation is directly shown through the strengths of its membership, and this year we've experienced unparalleled growth in two key areas; women and Nippers," Mr Williamson said.

"Women first officially joined the ranks of Surf Life Saving back in 1980, and since their welcome addition their contribution has grown exponentially."

In the past 12 months alone we have seen an 18 per cent increase with 55,000 women now members of the organisation.

"Nippers, or junior lifesavers, also saw a dramatic membership spike over the past 12 months with a 27 per cent increase to 47,806 kids aged five to 13 now taking to the water each weekend during the season."

Since the movement began in 1907, Surf Life Saving Australia claims it has been involved in rescues which have saved the lives of 530,000 people, but wants to educate people so they can help themselves.

Surf Life Saving Australia asks beach visitors to always: swim between the flags; look for safety signs; ask surf lifesavers if uncertain of currents; swim with a friend; and stick your hand up for help if in the water and in difficulty.



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