Bay watch back for summer

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VOLUNTEER lifesavers are back out on patrol across bayside beaches for the summer months.

Life Saving Victoria is expecting “another busy summer” with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting soaring temperatures even warmer than average across the state this summer.

“We urge all beachgoers to assist our lifesavers by swimming between the red and yellow flags on patrolled beaches. If our lifesavers can’t see you, they can’t save you,’’ LSV operations manager Greg Scott said.

“It’s so important that people realise just how dangerous beaches can be – even when the weather is nice.”

The first lifeguard patrols for the summer months hit the sand and water on Sunday (2 December).

Volunteer lifesavers patrol beaches on most public holidays and at weekends.

The resumption of beach patrols by lifeguards comes in the same week LSV released its annual Victorian Drowning Report collating statistics and information about drowning deaths.

The report stated there is a 99 per chance of at least one person drowning each year in Melbourne’s south-east region which includes the Kingston municipality.

In the 2016-17 year, there were 45 drowning deaths across Victoria, a 20 per cent rise on the ten-year average.

Boat passengers should wear life jackets at all times, LSV says and children are at risk of drowning in home swimming pools if unsupervised.

LSV principal research associate Dr Bernadette Matthews compiled the annual report and said paramedics also attended 54 non-fatal drowning incidents in Victoria during 2016-17, bringing the number of dangerous drowning incidents across the state to 99.

“Drownings are shocking to both families of the victims and the public, especially because each drowning could have been prevented,” Dr Matthews said.

“Non-fatal drownings gain less attention, but they also have far-reaching effects on families and also on the victims, who may never fully recover. Including all drowning incidents gives a fuller picture and is important in formulating our prevention tactics.”

A Play it Safe by the Water advertising campaign will air during the summer to remind beachgoers and swimming pool users to always be careful in and around water.

“The most common activity immediately prior to a drowning is swimming, paddling or wading, representing 29 per cent of fatal and 26 per cent of non-fatal drowning incidents,” Dr Matthews said.

Beachgoers are also advised to check weather conditions and read safety signs when visiting beaches.

Information about patrolled beach locations and times is available at beachsafe.org.au online.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 6 December 2017

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