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After a huge weekend on NSW beaches, and heatwave conditions and large swells forecast for Australia Day, authorities are warning beachgoers to heed safety advice if they head to the coast to cool off.

Traditionally one of the biggest beach days of the year, tomorrow is shaping up to bust all records for beach attendance across the state.

Surf lifesavers are on high alert and in some areas resources are stretched to the limit after a horror weekend of rescues and emergency callout incidents.

Solid swell conditions and big crowds saw many people get into trouble and there were a number of near drownings dealt with by lifesavers and lifeguards.

Over the weekend there was a record-breaking 303 rescues performed by lifesavers, 1200 first aids and 15,560 preventative actions. On top of this, there were 86 incidents. The State Operations Centre responded to 17 emergency callouts and 25 Ambulances were called. Bluebottles were also an issue with 375 stings treated and beaches were closed 94 times due to bluebottle swarms.

The Illawarra region was a particular hotspot with several near-drownings and callouts to rescue people swept off rocks. This is particularly concerning after the loss of three rock fishers at Port Kembla just days ago.

COVID restrictions may also impact beach management tomorrow too with popular hotspots expected to reach capacity for crowding and councils may look at restricting access at certain locations. (Beach access restrictions can be viewed via the Beachsafe website and app.)

SLSNSW Director of Lifesaving Joel Wiseman congratulated the army of volunteers who patrolled over the weekend and thanked those who will be out in force again tomorrow, giving up their own Australia Day celebrations to keep people safe.

“I can’t thank our volunteers enough for their vigilance and commitment over the weekend. It’s not just our lifesavers on the beach but also our personnel stationed in the State Operations Centre who were inundated with requests for assistance from emergency services and the club and branch callout teams who responded to so many people in trouble outside of patrolled locations,” said Joel Wiseman.

“I want to thank the majority of the public who listened to the safety advice of lifesavers and lifeguards over the weekend. However, as we approach the busiest day of the season I urge the public not to let their guard down and remain vigilant, as the ocean can be a dangerous place. I urge everyone to enjoy Australia Day and our beautiful coastal beaches, but please stop and think before taking unnecessary risks.”

As Australians flock to the coast to enjoy the Australia Day holiday, surf lifesavers are also reminding people to avoid swimming under the influence of drugs and alcohol and to check the Beachsafe website or download the Beachsafe app to find patrolled beach locations before leaving home.

“Have a great Australia Day but make sure that if you’re heading to the beach, go to a patrolled location and only swim between the red and yellow flags,” said Joel Wiseman.

Since 1 July 2020, 27 people have drowned on the NSW coastline, with six fatalities in the last week.

Beach Safety Tips

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website

  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information

  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water

  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm

  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero

For information about patrol times, weather, and beach access restrictions visit the Website or Download the App


Monday 25 January 2021