Lifesavers on Mooloolaba Beach
Lifesavers on Mooloolaba Beach John McCutcheon

Lifesavers urge caution with 'tragic' start to summer

LIFESAVERS are urging swimmers to stick between the flags after a tragic start to the season saw four fatalities on Sunshine Coast beaches.

Lifesaving service coordinator for Surf Life Saving Queensland, Jacob Thomson said volunteers were ramped up and patrol hours were extended around the region.

Last summer, more than 5.5million people visited Sunshine Coast beaches, with lifesavers and lifeguards performing 8247 first aid treatments, 92,000 preventative actions, and 297 rescues.

The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will increase patrols to twice-daily flights and jet-ski patrols on black-spots will aid the increased lifesaver presence.

"We want to see everyone leave our beaches safely,” he said.

"There's only so much we can do and people need to help themselves by sticking between the flags.”

Three fatalities were recorded at Noosa and a forth at Currimundi in the last few months, prompting Mr Thomson to urge all beachgoers to be careful.

"Unfortunately, all of these fatalities have occurred at unpatrolled beaches or outside of designated patrol times, which is disappointing to see,” he said.

"It's a heartbreaking reminder that tragedies can and do occur if beachgoers aren't putting safety first at all times in and around the water.

"It might be a flash rip, a dumping wave, or even a heart attack in the water, but if you run into trouble the chances of survival are significantly reduced if you're not swimming at a patrolled beach near surf lifesavers and lifeguards.”

From this Saturday, SLSQ's surf lifesavers and lifeguards will roll out extended patrol times, from 7am-6pm each day, to cope with an expected influx of beachgoers.

About 8000 volunteer lifesavers will also descend on Queensland beaches this summer, with unfavourable conditions expected this weekend.

As wild weather approaches, Mr Thomson urged people to stay out of the water if beaches were closed.

"Lifesavers will be working hard and surfers should be extremely cautious in the expected conditions,” he said.

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