It’s been a tragic holiday break for far too many families, friends and communities. From a toddler on Christmas day to kids innocently playing on the beach, to boaties and others engaged in recreational pursuits. Nine people in the holiday period alone, bringing the 2014 total to 90 lives lost. Clearly, as much as we do, there is still much more to be done to educate, inform and help people enjoy the water safely; notwithstanding the fact that accidents happen.

We commend our Surf, Coastguard and Helicopter rescue services and go back to asking people to take a much more active role themselves and to think more intently about their personal approach to water safety.  Leading up to Christmas we reminded people of the following simple water safe approaches, and as our long sunny days continue we ask you to keep them front of mind. Over the coming weeks we’ll be focusing on each of these messages in a little more detail. 

  1.  Active Adult Supervision – whether by the home pool, the local hot pools, at the riverside or beach, please actively supervise younger ones. We want to focus on this one this week.  Active supervision means that keep them within sight, sound and reach, without distraction, focused solely on that one task. For older ones it’s about knowing exactly where they are and what they are doing.  For larger groups, take turns to have someone actively on duty as the ‘active supervisor’ within the adults is a great idea.  They need to be able to see where the young ones are, what the water is doing and how to prevent anyone getting into difficulty in the first place.  They should also have some form of communication device in case the unexpected happens. If you’re travelling to unfamiliar places identify potential hazards to young children so you can eliminate or minimise the risk.
  2. If you’re heading to the beach, choose one patrolled by lifeguards, and swim between the flags. This where they have deemed it safest to swim. If there are no patrols consider whether it is safe to swim and if in doubt, don’t go out.
  3. If you are unfamiliar with the place you are enjoying then ask the locals or lifeguards and do a little homework before you go.  Rips, rivers, currents, eddies and river mouths can all present challenges so take time to understand how the water is moving before you go in.  Also make sure you know where and how you are going to get out.
  4. Wear a lifejacket – remind people about the new Bylaw that requires everyone to wear a lifejacket when on vessels of 6 metres or less.
  5. Carry two forms of communication – mobile phone (in a waterproof bag), VHF radio, flares or beacon.
  6. Weather can change quickly without warning. Stay ahead of it, and if in doubt don’t go out.
  7. Remember, if you’re the skipper you are in charge and must be responsible for all on board.
  8. Avoid excessive alcohol.

Please take these eight simple points to heart and whatever you are doing, swimming, fishing, surfing, sailing, boating or just messing about in the water ….have fun and enjoy our beautiful waters, safely.

Together we can crack it,

Jonny Gritt

Chief Executive