Free workshops which teach members of the public how to read surf conditions could prove vital for some this summer.
Lake Macquarie beach lifeguard team leader Paul Stone said they had seen “record numbers” at the beach this season and advised community members to heed warnings, swim at patrolled beaches and stay between the flags.
There has been a horrific spate of drownings – 19 people have lost their lives – and near-drownings throughout the state already this summer.
“All of the drownings that we’ve had, whether it is backyard pools, dams, rivers and on the beaches, have all happened because they’ve either been unsupervised or swum in areas that are just not suitable for swimming,” Mr Stone said. “The only drownings that we have had on the beaches have happened either outside of patrolled areas or at night.
“We’ve had hundreds of thousands of people swimming along our coastline through the day at patrolled locations without incident, so the stats speak for themselves.”
Two Be Safe At The Beach workshops are being held at Caves Beach Surf Club. The first was on January 9 and the second January 16.
“The lifeguard running it will talk about rips and currents and waves and how different dynamics affect the beach,” Mr Stone said. “To most people the water always looks the same or very rarely looks any different but to a trained eye it is continually changing.
“He’ll just run through that with everyone and a bit of an understanding of why that happens and what you can do if you find yourself in difficulty.”
Numerous rescues have been made this season and with the weather expected to heat up again this week Mr Stone expects more.
“As soon as you get big numbers you tend to overflow into areas of the beach that aren’t patrolled and because of that we’ve had a few rescues as well,” he said.
More information at www.eventbrite.com.au/o/explore-our-great-outdoors-12280988333.