Beach and Water Safety

All beach user groups and the broader community need to develop a sound level of knowledge, practical skills and understandings of what to do when visiting our beaches and other accessible coastal locations. Decisions about where to bathe, swim, surf and use recreational water craft are key not only for enjoyment, but also for personal safety and the safety of others. Minimising risk in and around coastal waters and adopting care for the beach water environment are important for maintaining continued use of beautiful beaches and waterways. Apart from water safety information located here, water safety education and training programs are available from APOLA for preschool, school, adult, senior adult, workplace, aquatic sports coaches, specific needs groups, surf coaches, school teachers and professional ocean lifeguards. Check out beach water safety information and/or visit Training & Education for information about the APOLA training and education programs.


Beach & Water Safety – Tips for Bathers and Swimmers

  • Bathe and swim between the red and yellow flags which indicate the supervised swimming area – No Flags = No Swim
  • Look for, read and obey water safety signs
  • Check water conditions and water depth before swimming – never dive head first
  • Bathe and swim under supervision or swim with a mate – never go in alone
  • Never bathe and swim directly after eating or under the influence of drugs including alcohol
  • Learn how to recognise rips and keep clear of these areas – if caught in a rip stay calm, float with the current, call out HELP and wave an arm to gain attention of nearby surfers or lifeguards
  • Always use sunscreen to protect exposed skin, put on a shirt, wear sunglasses and a hat when not swimming and drink plenty of water

Professional ocean lifeguard work requires an individual to be experienced in surfing, well trained in communication and rescue and highly motivated for preventing beach and water related accidents. Personal requirements include being:

  • Physically fit.
  • Highly skilled in swimming, surfing and using rescue and first aid equipment.
  • Capable of remaining constantly alert using highly developed observation and surveillance skills.
  • Capable of reading the changing ocean and weather conditions.
  • Able to identify hazards, assess risk, anticipate danger and act effectively to prevent and manage incidents including rescues and other emergency events.
  • Act efficiently in critical incident situations that demand the use of acquired knowledge, skill and determination necessary to preserve or save human life.
  • Knowledgable in regulations pertaining to the beach, capable of resolving conflict and managing all activity at beaches including educating beach users to adopt a risk management approach

Contact APOLA for a full information kit.


Education and Training

APOLA, through the APOLA Board of Education, Training, Examination and Awards, provides a comprehensive awards system for professional lifeguards and community groups as well as a number of specific education and training initiatives in concert with other professional bodies The community awards strand caters for beach water safety education and training for pre school, school, adult, senior adult, workplace, aquatic sports coaches, teachers and specific needs groups.

Contact APOLA or check the Noticeboard on this website for training with an aquatic focus and more for information on courses that include: Senior First Aid, Advanced Resuscitation, Spinal Management, Automatic External Defibrillation and specific rescue equipment awards such as LPC (jet ski with rescue sled) and training for school teachers, surf coaches and professional ocean lifeguards.


‘Stay Safe on Australian Beaches Multilingual Videos’

These videos are available in English, Japanese, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin and were developed by APOLA professional ocean lifeguards with financial support from the NSW State Government.

Each video is introduced by two times world champion long-board surfer Harley Ingleby and describes what hazards may be found at the beach, how to manage and avoid these hazards, and tips on how to learn new surf skills to make beach visits fun and enjoyable.


‘Multilingual Backpack Beach Survival Guide Pamphlets’

These pamphlets are available in Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish and and were developed by APOLA professional ocean lifeguards with financial support from the NSW State Government.

Each pamphlet carries the theme ‘Don’t Drown on our Australian Beaches’ and lists 6 important messages on how to identify, manage and avoid hazards including rips.  ‘Don’t Get Sucked In by the Rip’ pictures and text reinforce what to do if you are caught in a rip – FLOAT, RELAX and SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Please note these Pamphlets will be uploaded in the near future.


Downloadable Documents

Sharksmart Brochure
Surfers Code
APOLA’s Top 6 Beach Safety Tips for Swimmers and Families
A Flyer Dr Rip’s Essential Beach Book
SEI Rip Survival Poster