Last year the network of beach patrol volunteers throughout NSW performed over 5000 rescues around 26000 first aid treatments and 440,000 preventative actions.
The coastline is a beautiful and dynamic place, but please remember it can also be hazardous and unpredictable. Knowing how to stay safe when you visit the beach is essential.
Follow these tips for safety …
1. Always swim between the red and yellow flags – it’s impossible for patrol captains to monitor every part of the water, so please stay where we can keep an eye on you. If there are no flags, you should not swim.
2. Look and take notice of the signs at the beach – these are put in place to alert you to various hazards. Although some of these may be permanent, others are placed each day by the lifeguards to highlight specific hazards, such as rip currents.
3. Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver for safety advice – if you’re not sure about anything at all, ask your lifeguard. We are highly trained and knowledgeable about beach safely and conditions, so talk to us – it’s what we’re here for.
4. Learn how to identify a rip. Joining a SLSC will help to educate you, but again you can ask your lifeguard to help you.
You’re looking for deeper, dark-coloured water with fewer breaking waves and a rippling surface. You might also see foamy, sandy water flowing beyond the waves.
It’s not just tourists and poor swimmers that get caught in rips.
Don’t try to swim against the rip as you will quickly become exhausted. Try to float with the current, while raising an arm for help – or try to swim parallel to the beach to catch some breaking waves to help you back to shore.
5. Swim with a friend so you can look out for each other- never swim or surf alone.
6. If you need help, try to stay calm and attract attention by raising your arm above your head. Conserve your energy by floating until you are rescued.
7. Please never enter the water if you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of drugs.
8. Always wear sunscreen – even on a cloudy day. Bring some shade to the beach with you and make sure you and stay hydrated.
9. If you are bodyboarding, please remember to use a leash and wear fins. Lifeguards often rescue bodyboarders who couldn’t kick their way out of rips, because they weren’t wearing fins.
10. If you witness an in-water emergency, alert the surf rescue team on the beach. If you are outside a patrol area, dial Triple Zero (000) – Police.
For information on Beach conditions or to find a patrolled beach near you, you can check out the BeachSafe website or download the mobile app.
Enjoy the beach and stay safe!