Three tips for school holiday safety
SCHOOL holidays kick off this weekend with tourists and locals expected to be out and about to enjoy the spring weather.
This means our beaches, roads and tourist hot spots will be busier than usual and the community is being reminded to put safety first.
From fire and camping bans, to road and beach safety campaigns, everyone should be vigilant of current warning and alerts before they head for a day of fun.
If you are out and about these school holidays, here are three important safety warnings to consider.
With summer just around the corner, our beaches are beginning to heat up and local volunteer surf lifesavers will be back in red and yellow to patrol from Saturday morning.
While a day at the beach is fun, it can quickly turn deadly and Surf Life Saving Queensland is reminding all beachgoers to only swim between the red and yellow flags and listen to directions of those on duty.
“More than 80 per cent of rescues performed last year occurred outside of the flags. These people however are the lucky ones as their trip to the beach could have ended very differently had it not been for our lifesavers and lifeguards,” SLSQ Chief Executive Officer Dave Whimpey said.
“The reality is though – our resources are stretched and we cannot be everywhere. Make your safety a priority and only enter the water at a patrolled beach. If not for yourself, do it for a loved one.”
SLSQ released their 2018/19 Coast Safe Report on Friday which revealed the tragic statistic from last season, and the worst since records began.
In the Noosa region there were three drownings outside the flags, two in one week, which made up part of the 21 statewide surf deaths. Of those drownings, 12 victims were males aged between 51 and 73, and 10 international visitors.
Queensland’s volunteer of the year and Sunshine Beach surf life saver Craig Law is expecting 2019-20 season to start off with a rush just like last year’s demanding season, which saw plenty of challenges.
“Luckily for us and the lifesaving fraternity, the zero fatalities between the flag was still maintained,” Craig said.
He said there has been a massive increase in male drowning deaths as they over-estimate their surf swimming ability.
“I think it comes from the old bravado of ‘I’m right, I can swim, I’ll be okay’ and then all of a sudden rips come across.
“The sea can be very unsuspecting at times — it looks all nice and calm and they go into an area where they get into trouble.
“Obviously the contributing factors are alcohol and going in after a big night on the sauce and then decide to head out for a swim.
“Instead of generally going with the rip, they fight against it.”
Areas around Noosa’s headland and Sunshine Beach are notorious for rescues and tragedy, and authorities are pleading everyone, even experienced surfers, to be aware of the risks of entering these “black spots”.
After a horror few weeks of dangerous fire conditions, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have extended a local fire ban for Noosa Shire and surrounding areas.
So, if you are headed camping the message is plain and simple: don’t light a fire.
Under a local fire ban all open fires are prohibited and all permits to light fire which have been issued in the designated areas have been cancelled.
Due to the fire risk, day-trippers and campers are warned sections of the Great Sandy National Park, off the Bruce Highway near Tewantin, including Cooloola Great Walk, parts of Teewah Beach, the Cooloola Recreation area and the K’gari (Fraser Island) Great Walk are partially closed.
Fire crews are also continue to fight a blaze which broke out on Teewah Beach on September 8 after a fire was poorly extinguished by campers.
If you need to do work around the house, also think twice.
Power tools may be used during a local fire ban however QFES encourages people to use these with extreme care and ensure adequate equipment is available to extinguish any fire which may start. This may include having a person available to watch out for any ignitions that occur.
The other big warning is for smokers to properly dispose of cigarette butts.
Noosa Council’s local disaster co-ordinator Carl Billingham said fire bans needed to be heeded and warned drivers or passengers to never throw cigarette butts from car windows.
“Not only is this dangerous, it’s illegal, and carries fines in excess of $5222.
“The likelihood of bushfires remains high so we all need be vigilant and make sure we are all bushfire-ready,” Mr Billingham said.
School holidays mean more cars on the road and police are pleading with all motorists to drive safely and arrive at their destinations with the launch of Operation Spring Break.
The joint operation between QPS, QFES and QAS will once again focus on safe driving behaviour throughout the school holiday period.
Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing Command Mike Keating said drivers must not be complacent.
“It’s a great time of the year for road trips, but long trips can be dangerous,” Mr Keeting said.
“Driving on unfamiliar roads and long distances is all the more reason to remain alert and take extra care.
“Distractions can have devastating consequences any time behind the wheel.
“We are once again asking drivers to always focus on the road despite what may be happening around them.”
As September school holidays start, so too does Operation Spring Break. @MarkRyanQLD and Assistant Commissioner Keating were joined by @QldFES and @QldAmbulance representatives to officially launch the road safety focussed operation. More here: https://t.co/DscGndFzu1 pic.twitter.com/SICN558hne— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) September 19, 2019
He said police will maintain a strong presence on Queensland roads.
RACQ have also released startling figures showing more than one third of drivers admitted to speeding on freeways and highways.
According to the RACQ Annual Road Safety Survey, more than 30 per cent of drivers admitted to travelling too fast on high speed roads in 90 to 110km/hour zones.
RACQ’s Lauren Ritchie said with many people heading away over the holiday period it was a timely reminder to stick to the speed limit.
“It’s incredibly alarming so many people are willing to push the limits, particularly at such high speeds. It’s also scary to note the higher the speed limit, the more people who admitted to breaking the law,” Ms Ritchie said.
Ms Ritchie reminded holiday-makers heading off-road that normal road rules still applied.
“If you’re taking your car on the sand, remember speeding and drink driving are still incredibly dangerous and illegal and police will certainly be targeting these areas over the holidays,” she said.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Helicopter Director of Aeromedical Service David Donaldson said crews were on high alert for the holiday season having already attended more than 115 motor vehicle crashes this year, including 49 on the Sunshine Coast.
“Car crashes are one of the most common incidents our fleet of helicopters is called to, across the state, and school holidays were a peak time for incidents,” Mr Donaldson said.