CareFlight urges public to be water wise during scorching weather

Thursday 25 February 2016, Sydney 9.45am

As the last blast of scorching summer heat hits, CareFlight is urging members of the public to take care in the surf, rivers and other waterways.

Although summer is nearly over, the number of water related incidents the aeromedical charity is called to in February is traditionally quite high.

Last year the Westmead based rapid response helicopter attended eight drowning or near drownings in January and February alone, while the total number for the year was 13.

CareFlight doctor Alan Garner said water related injuries are always high at this time of the year, and with temperatures expected to hit 40 degrees in some parts of NSW today, he is urging the public to be water wise.

“We would always urge people to take care near water, no matter what you are doing, whether you are a strong swimmer, an experienced surfer or a regular water sports enthusiast, the sea and indeed rivers can be very unpredictable,” Dr Garner said.

“Unfortunately for us, a spike in temperature means we usually get called to treat patients with water related injuries, whether it’s a swimmer getting into difficulty at the beach or a child falling into a pool.

“Last year the majority of the drowning and near drownings we attended happened in January and February with a number of incidents involving other water related injuries.”

In the first two months of 2015, the rapid response helicopter responded to six patients who sustained injuries from boating and water sports.

So far this year, the aeromedical charity has been called to five water related incidents including two near drownings.

Over one weekend in early February the rapid response helicopter flew to an injured surfer on the Central Coast, a near drowning in Sydney and a water skiing accident on the Hawkesbury River.

“We have seen more and more injuries as a result of high speed boating incidents and water sports. Unfortunately these injuries can be just as serious as those sustained in a car crash and are often life-threatening.

“We want everyone to enjoy the last blast of summer and have fun in the water but they need to put their safety first. Simple tips like not swimming or surfing alone, obeying signs around waterways, slowing down and taking extra care while boating or taking part in water sports can make all the difference,” Dr Garner said.

CareFlight: the next life we save may be yours