Surf lifesaving bosses have issued an urgent plea to beachgoers after a spike in drownings across NSW.
There has been 15 coastal deaths and drownings since December 1, which is two more than the same time last year, state government figures show.
The latest figures come ahead of what’s expected to be a busy Australia Day for lifesavers.
Over the Australia Day long weekend in 2021, there were 815 rescues – counting for more than a fifth of all rescues last year.
Speaking at Sydney’s Warriewood Beach, near where a rock fisherman drowned on New Year’s Day, Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce said all the drownings occurred at locations with no lifeguards.
“We have not had a drowning between our red and yellow flags in the patrolled location,” he said.
With Covid restrictions forcing more people to holiday at Australian beaches, Mr Pearce said there were measures beachgoers, fishers and anyone else out on the water could follow to prevent drownings.
“Stay between the red and yellow flags, swim at patrolled beaches, if you’re rock fishing or you’re boating, please wear a life jacket because life jackets will save your lives,” he said.
“If you’re unsure of the surf conditions, please ensure you ask a surf lifesaver or a lifeguard about the conditions on the day.
“If you’re not a strong swimmer, please don’t enter the water. Do not drink and swim.”