Stay safe this Australia Day long weekend

Put safety first at the beach this long weekend.

Beachgoers have been urged to exercise caution this Australia Day long weekend, following a spate of deaths and record-high number of swimmers ignoring advice and swimming outside the flags.

Surf Life Saving Queensland Executive officer John Brennan said beach safety needed to be made a priority in the same way road safety was considered essential.

“Whether it’s through complacency, bravado or simply over-confidence, we’ve seen far too many people risk their lives this summer by swimming outside the flags or at unpatrolled locations and, tragically, not everyone has made it home safely,” he said.

“You wouldn’t get in a car and not buckle your seatbelt, so why risk your life by going to the beach and not swimming between the flags?

“Everyone, from children to the elderly, understand and appreciate the importance of road safety and wearing a seatbelt.

“We want beach safety and the act of swimming between the red and yellow flags to become a habit also.”

The message is especially relevant to males, who accounted for 13 of the 15 beach-related drownings from July 2018 to January 2019.

“The time for complacency has to end now,” Mr Brennan said.

“15 lives have been lost and hundreds more have been impacted, as family and friends face the reality of life without their loved ones.

Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said he hoped people would start taking beach safety more seriously.

“People need to be aware that fatalities can, and do, occur along Queensland’s coastline if they aren’t making safety a priority,” he said.

“A trip to the beach is a much-loved activity for many Queenslanders – don’t let it turn into tragedy.

“We want you to enjoy your day and return home safely.”

In addition to staying safe at the beach, Queenslanders have also been prompted to stay sun safe with radiation levels predicted to be extreme.

According to the Queensland Government, half of all Queensland adults and children suffer sunburn annually – in the first half of 2018 alone, 133 sunburn cases were treated by Queensland emergency departments.

“Almost all of these cases could have been avoided by using good sun protection measures,” Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said.

“It’s extremely concerning that some people are getting sunburnt so badly they need emergency care.

“Our state has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – about 3600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year.”

Ms McMillan said it was imperative Queenslanders used sun protection this Australia Day.

“Many of us will be taking advantage of the long weekend by spending time outdoors, however, at this time of year, the UV levels hit extreme and unprotected skin could burn in as little as 10 minutes,” she said.

“Whether you’re cracking out the cricket set, heading to the coast or your local dam, you need to follow all five sun-protective behaviours – slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade and slide on wrap-around sunglasses.”