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Updated: Jan 18, 2021

It was a beautiful sunny Summer day. A group of International students including myself were visiting Coffs Harbour. As part of the summer ritual, we went off to the beach. Perfect calm sea.

I am an average swimmer and waded into the shallow waters (so I thought) to swim. The next sequence of events are still a haze to me. I was being swept away, screaming and before long being rescued by a lifesaver. Thrown on the beach, I went into a deep sleep and woke up sunburnt and suffering severe sunstroke. Yes, having a dark skin does not protect you from the fierce Australian sun. I was taken to hospital and put on drip.

The news lately has been full of drowning, including international students. We have just heard that 22 people have died from drowning this summer season.

Many migrants coming here, including international students are unaware of the dangers of the Australian water. Many are average swimmers or non- swimmers wanting just have a paddle in the waters.

Here are some survival tips:

1. Going to the beaches – being safe (enjoying your beach visits)

Swimming between the red and yellow flags- thane means, it’s being patrolled by lifesavers. If you get into trouble, help is nearby. You can see them in yellow/red attire. Rips are common in Australian beaches and a real-life danger. Shallow waters can be just as dangerous – remember my experience.

2. Sea creatures – It’s not just sharks you have to fear – blue bottles, jelly fish (stingers). Having a sunscreen is important, irrespective of your skin colour as ultra violet (UV) can be very high in Australia. I never out in the sun without a sunscreen

3. Fresh water pools/diving – swimming in fresh water pools, river or diving can be be just as dangerous. It’s what’s hidden underneath the waters that we should be aware of –rocks, tree trunks, branches.

4. Rock-fishing – considered a deadly sport but clearly a favourite sport of some migrants. A thrill yes, but so fraught with danger, causing many unnecessary deaths. Many rock fishermen are non-swimmers, tend to fish alone and do not wear life jackets.

Being aware of the dangers lurking in the waters and being safe would give comfort to your families back in the country you came from. Enjoy safe swimming.

Some useful links to read:

Beach safety

- Soraya Raju, CEO and Founder of Migrate Success.

Cultural integration expert and creator of the LAB program©

LOOK, ACT, BELONG –For professionals and skilled migrants

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