Northern NSW lifeguards will launch their summer safety campaign on Saturday (20th December).

More than 120 lifeguards will commence patrols on 41 beaches along the North Coast and these will continue until Monday, 26th January.

The Australian Lifeguard Service, in partnership with local councils, will provide safe swimming areas as well as undertake rescues, undertake first aid treatment and provide surf and beach safety advice.

“Lifeguard services play an important part in ensuring the northern NSW coast remains one of Australia’s top summer destinations,” said Stephen Leahy, Northern NSW Lifeguard Co-ordinator.

“People know they can go to a beach close to where they are visiting and there will be a lifesaving service there on any day of the summer holidays.”

Operation Beachsafe is an extensive campaign that seeks to reduce the number of preventable drownings in northern NSW during the summer holidays.

A recent nation-wide study that reviewed coastal drownings over the last four years clearly indicated that males up to 30 years old were most likely to drown and that drownings occurred in rips near patrolled locations between 12pm and 6pm. Most drownings occurred in the first months of the year, on weekdays.

Part of the campaign focuses on community education but lifeguards will play an important part in Operation Beachsafe.  
Lifeguards will be maintaining a high level of visibility – beachgoers should be able to quickly identify their lifeguard (not just the safe swimming area and the flags) when they arrive at the beach.

Preventative actions will remain constant and lifeguards are expected to communicate informally and regularly with people on their beach.

Lifeguard Services have been extended with all beaches in the Tweed Shire and Byron Bay’s Main Beach now being patrolled to 6pm on weekdays.  

Ballina Shire’s Lennox Head and Shelly Beach will be patrolled until 7pm on weekdays.

Two new beaches are being patrolled for the first time this summer – Mooball at South Pottsville (Tweed Shire) and The Wreck at Byron Bay.

Two 4WD trucks and three rescue jet skis will back up lifeguard services in the event of a major incident and will undertake random checks of unpatrolled beaches.

“Safety information cards will given to visitors to our beaches and we are placing them in as many hotels, motels, caravan parks and backpacker hostels as possible,” said Mr Leahy.

Local Surf School, Mojosurf, has joined the campaign and will provide surf safety lessons and safety cards to all their students this summer.  

“We want visitors to have a great time on our beaches, and there are some easy tips to follow to ensure that you have fun safely,” said Mr Leahy.

Remember the F-L-A-G-S and stay safe this summer:

  • F Find the flags and swim between them – the red and yellow flags mark the safest place to swim at the beach.
  • L Look at the safety signs – they help you identify potential dangers and daily conditions at the beach.
  • A Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver for some good advice – surf conditions can change quickly so talk to a surf lifesaver or lifeguard before entering the water.
  • G Get a friend to swim with you – so you can look out for each other’s safety and get help if needed. Children should always be supervised by an adult.
  • S Stick your hand up for help – if you get into trouble in the water, stay calm, raise your arm to signal for help. Float with a current or rip – don’t try and swim against it.

Some facts:

127 lifeguards will be employed over summer to provide safe beaches;
Services in northern NSW cover nine local council areas.
Patrol hours are from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily, except for Tweed Shire beaches and Byron Bay main beach (9.00 am to 6.00 pm), Lennox Head and Shelly Beach, Ballina (9.00 am to 7.00 pm).
Two new beaches are being patrolled this summer: Mooball Beach at South Pottsville (Tweed Shire) and The Wreck (Byron Bay).
Two lifeguards will also be on duty overnight on New Year’s Eve at Byron’s main beach.
Lifeguards are trained in surf rescue, emergency care and resuscitation, beach management, local government law enforcement and public relations.
A lifeguard – Jordan Reed – is part of an official exchange program with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution of the UK.
Lifeguards are different from surf lifesavers in that a lifeguard usually works either by themselves or only with one other lifeguard and is employed, whereas a surf lifesaver is a volunteer person who works in a team (“patrol”).   
All lifeguards and surf lifesavers are part of Surf Life Saving NSW.

Beaches being patrolled by lifeguards this year:

Tweed Shire:

Duranbah/Flagstaff, Fingal, Cudgen, Salt Resort, Casuarina, Cabarita, Hastings, Pottsville, Mooball Beach (at South Pottsville).

Byron Shire and Cape Byron Trust:

South Golden, Brunswick Heads, The Wreck, Byron Main Beach, The Pass, Wategos, Tallows Beach (Cosy Corner), Suffolk Park, Broken Head.

Ballina Shire:

Lennox Head, Sharps, Shelly, Lighthouse, South Ballina.

Richmond Valley Shire:

Evans Head.

Clarence Valley Shire:

Iluka, Yamba, Pippie, Turners, Brooms Head, Minni Waters, Wolli.

Bellingen Shire

North Beach, Hungry Head.

Nambucca Shire:

Valla, Nambucca Heads, Scotts Head,.

Kempsey Shire:

Grassy Head, Horseshoe Bay, South West Rocks, Hat Head, Crescent Head.