Illawarra lifesavers wrap up summer

Illawarra's volunteer surf lifesavers are hoping surf safety messages are finally sinking in, after a "quiet" patrol season which recorded zero drownings.

On Sunday, the region's volunteer surf lifesavers pulled down the flags for the final time, marking an end to successful summer patrol season.

"The state [drowning] toll has been dramatically reduced from 48 last year down to 23 as of last week," Surf Life Saving Illawarra director Anthony Turner said.

"So hopefully those safety messages regarding rock fishing, swimming between the flags and swimming on patrolled beaches are getting out there more."

Provisional statistics reveal Illawarra's volunteer surf lifesavers performed 220 rescues and responded to 31 after-hours emergency call-outs during the patrol season.

They also treated hundreds of first aid cases, including fractures, dislocations and spinal injuries, and 260 marine stings.

Surf Life Saving Illawarra duty officer Lachlan Pritchard said the organisation had focused its resources on support operations this season, using the jet-skis as much as possible and providing advanced training for members.

He hoped swimmers would continue to be vigilant in winter, when beaches were unpatrolled.

"This is really the time of year people need to be aware of the dangers of the beach and to be careful out there, because there are no services - other than North Wollongong lifeguards - that will be continuing on throughout the winter," Mr Pritchard said.

"You should only ever swim at a patrolled beach - that is the advice we give people - but if you happen to go to the beach, make sure you take a buddy, who could raise the alarm if you get in trouble."

The 2014-15 volunteer patrol season will begin on Saturday, September 20.

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