Beach Safety

Q: Where should I bathe and swim at the beach?
Bathe and swim between the red and yellow beach flags which indicate beach patrol – bathing and swimming permitted. This area is set up on a daily basis and is constantly under surveillance.

Q: Who watches bathers and swimmers between the red and yellow flags?
Professional lifeguards and weekend volunteer lifesavers ensure that people bathing and swimming between the red and yellow flags are constantly under surveillance. Coastal Councils often employ professional ocean lifeguards at popular beaches every day during the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons or all year round at their most popular beaches. Volunteer lifesavers also attend patrols on weekends during the summer season.

Q: What signs are used at beaches?
Australian Standard water safety signs are used at beaches to help provide information, warn people of particular hazards, and to regulate or prohibit some activities. If you are unsure of what a sign means, then ask an on-duty professional lifeguard or volunteer lifesaver.

Q: What if I am unsure about the water conditions?
Approach the professional lifeguard or weekend volunteer lifesaver and ask about the conditions.

Q: How do I recognise professional lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers?
Professional lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers are located in or near prominent beach shelters, surveillance towers, 4WD vehicles and lifeguard watercraft. Council professional lifeguards typically wear long-sleeved white shirts with blue collars and cuffs with the word LIFEGUARD in red block letters on the front and back of their work-shirt and blue shorts/tracksuit pants, or full aqua blue uniforms as seen on the popular television series BONDI RESCUE, Volunteer lifesavers wear red and yellow uniforms including the red and yellow skull cap.

Q: What is a rip?
A rip is a a water current that moves away from the shore. After waves have broken the accumulated water then moves seaward through a pathway of least resistance which usually is a channel called a rip. Rips move in different directions and flow rates dependent upon the nature of the beach and prevailing conditions including swell direction, wave size and tide level.  Rips are the cause of numerous near drowning and drowning deaths because inexperienced people often panic and exhaust themselves struggling against the flow of the rip, rather than staying calm and doing FLOAT TO SURVIVE.

Q: Where do rips occur?
Rips occur whenever there is wave activity at beaches – near sandbars and in and around rocks, breakwalls or any permanent ocean floor to water surface fixture in the ocean. When the waves are small the rips usually move in a circular pattern back towards a sand bank within the surf break, however the larger the waves, the stronger the flow, width and length of the rips. During high surf rips can travel past the surf break and are called mega rips.

Q: What do I do if I get caught in a rip?
Cross currents and flash rips can cause people to be washed away from shallow areas such as sandbars where they can stand. Staying calm is essential. Saving energy in not going directly against the rip is important. It is important to FLOAT TO SURVIVE, go with the current and when able wave an arm and call out “HELP”. Floating and conserving energy is important until help arrives. Struggling against a rip is very exhausting and can lead to panic.

Q: What equipment do lifeguards use?
Council professional ocean lifeguards are trained in beach management and emergency response. They are highly skilled in the use of a range of first aid and rescue equipment including: rescue boards, rescue tubes, spinal boards, defibrillators, trauma packs, analgesic gas, 4WD response vehicles and lifeguard powercraft with rescue sleds.