The Far South Coast’s beaches are busier than normal due to a big influx of holiday makers – mostly from Victoria.
With hot, dry conditions due to a low intensity heatwave developing north from the Victorian border, surf life savers are keeping a close eye on the crowds.
And they have reminded people to heed safety warnings around alcohol and swimming or boating, and swimming at unpatrolled locations, where the bulk of tragedies occur this time of year.
Cheryl McCarthy from Far South Coast Surf Life Saving said the safest place to swim was always between the flags on a patrolled beach.
“The red and yellow flags are the safe swimming area and have been picked out by our volunteers and by the council lifeguards and they go down, they check out the hazards and make sure they put those red and yellow flags in the safest place for people to swim,” she said.
Ms McCarthy encouraged people to talk to the surf life savers to learn more about beach conditions – and how the calmest looking areas were often the most dangerous.
“Even when the waves aren’t big there can be a really strong pull – the surf is always a little bit unpredictable so if you’re not familiar with the conditions make sure you check in with our patrols and they can even teach you a bit about how to identify a rip,” she said,
But if you do happen to get caught in a rip, she said the trick was not to panic – despite how frightening it can be when you feel yourself being pulled out to sea.
Ms McCarthy said there were a few simple things people should do.
“They key is don’t fight to come back to shore against that current,” she said.
“Put your hand up in the air and wave for help so people on the beach know that you need a hand, and if you can float and go with the rip, eventually you will come out of it – and you can swim sideways as well to get away from it.”
Image: Glenn Ellard