Gold Coast lifesavers have slammed parents for using the service as babysitters while they go shopping.
Yes, you read that right.
Parents are taking their children to the beach and leaving them unsupervised while they take off to attend to other things and officials are concerned that doing so may have devastating consequences.
With the school holidays underway, Lifesavers say they fear the problem will only get worse with parents instilling a false sense of safety with lifesavers. With lots of unsupervised children around they fear a drowning may be just around the corner as their attention is divided.
Gold Coast lifesaving co-ordinator Nathan Fife told the Courier Mail that leaving kids unattended on the beach puts pressure on guards to properly do their jobs.
“They’re out there to look after everyone on the beach — not just two or three kids,” he said.
Surprisingly the problem seems to be with local families on the Gold Coast rather than with tourists as many may assume. Locals may feel comfortable with the area and take less care when it comes to supervision.
Patrol captain at Surfers Paradise, Shane Aiken, told The Courier Mail that in his experience the most common scenario is parents leaving their kids alone to go shopping.
“A lot of the time it’s shopping centres,” he said.
“Parents leave their kids while they go shopping and when they come back an hour or two later, they’re gone."
Parents are being warned to remain vigilant when it comes to children around water, citing just how easily a tragedy can occur. Parents should know where their children are at all times and keep an eye on them when they are around water, no matter how safe the conditions may look.
Lifesavers are on duty from 8am till 5pm during the season.