Beach Safety
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Beach Safety

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Beach patrol flag

If you only remember one rule, make it this one: NO FLAGS = NO SWIM!

Find a patrolled beach on the Our Beaches page.

At the beach, conditions can change very quickly. The water might be calm when you first arrive, but turn unsafe in no time.

When you’re at the beach, it’s important to keep these things in mind:

  • Don't swim alone
  • If there are no flags up, don’t go in the water
  • Only swim at patrolled beaches
  • Swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble, stay calm and raise your arm
  • Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap

It's also important to:

  • Follow the advice of Lifeguards and Lifesavers
  • Only swim at patrolled locations
  • Be realistic about your own ability to respond to changing surf conditions.

Before you head to the beach, check out our Surf Safety video below

We've also prepared short videos on the unique conditions at Stanwell Park, Puckey's and Coniston Beaches, which you'll find under 'Videos' on the right of this page. 

New initiatives for managing sharks

In the 2017-2018 swim season, we're trialing some new initiatives to manage sharks at our beaches. Read more about it in our media release.

Beach Conditions and Wave Types

Here are a few different types of waves to help you identify what’s what.
Plunging/tubular wave
If you’ve ever been dumped by a wave, you’ll know this type. It breaks with force and can cause injury as the swimmer is thrown on the sea floor.


Spilling/rolling wave
​These are the safest waves swimmers, body surfers and board riders.

Surging/green wave
These are the waves that can knock you off your feet unexpectedly. They often don’t break before they hit the shore and can feel like a strong surge.

Rip Currents

Where there are breaking waves, you can find rips and currents. They can be identified by:
  • Looking for darker, discoloured water with debris moving out to sea.
  • A rippled effect on the water’s surface, while all around it is calm
  • Waves breaking larger, and further out to sea on both sides.

There are some great online resources to help you understand and identify rips. We recommend visiting Beachsafe's Rip Currents page or Dr Rip's 'Science of the Surf' site.

If you’re not sure about rips, always ask the Lifeguard on duty.

What to do if you get caught in a rip

  • Stay calm and raise your arm for help.
  • If you’re on a board, stay with it.
  • If you’re a good swimmer, paddle with the board or swim at right angles to the direction of the rip towards the breaking waves. The waves should wash you back to shore.
  • If you’re an inexperienced swimmer, ride the rip out from the beach, paddle the board – or swim – parallel to the beach toward the breaking waves. They should wash you back to shore.
  • Don’t swim against the rip – even if you’re a good swimmer.


Swim Safety


Alcohol and Swimming


Just like drinking and driving, alcohol and swimming is a dangerous combination. Your judgment is impaired, you get tired easily, you take more risks and your body temperature can drop more rapidly. Plus, if a person affected by alcohol gets into difficulties, they can vomit and choke. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t mix alcohol with swimming.

Be Sun Smart

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer worldwide. Swimmers should always protect themselves against skin cancer. For tips on being sun smart, visit the Cancer Council website.



For more information on beach safety, visit the Beachsafe website.


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