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Professional Lifeguards say safety first at Australian beaches

Professional Lifeguards say safety first at Australian beaches
January 3, 2014

The Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association (APOLA) has reminded beachgoers to continue to 'play it safe' at beaches so loved ones and friends can take home memories of enjoyment rather than an unwanted memory of tragedy that a beach related drowning can bring.

20 year professional beach lifeguard veteran and APOLA National Field Officer Greg Hackfath, who oversees beach safety on the NSW Coffs Coast, said that beach regulars and seasonal beach goers, be they swimmers, rock fishers, small boaters or surfers need to maintain respect the ocean and always plan for safety when out and about at beaches and at other open water locations.

Hackfath states "if people think safety first then a day at the beach can be great fun."

APOLA Media spokesperson and senior professional ocean lifeguard at Australia's busiest beach, Bondi, Terry McDermott, says that with January temperatures expected to be above average people will flock to beaches but everyone must remember to properly check on what the actual water and wave conditions are like.

"Be it cool and overcast, or hot and sunny, people should always think carefully about where they should swim, surf, fish or paddle. When that sun starts to shine and you want to gain relief from the summer heat you need to make good decisions about where to go in at our beautiful beaches..

"Always be guided by the lifeguards, read the beach signs and take time to check it out before you go out," said Mr McDermott who also has spent over 30 years doing radio reporting on weather along our east coast in concert with professional lifeguarding."

Hackfath, the Coffs Harbour City Council Lifeguard Coordinator, concludes "the best swimming locations are at supervised locations known as the area between the red and yellow flags. Going to an unsupervised beach is not a good idea unless you are an experienced surfer. Know your limitations, learn how to read the conditions and never go in alone."

APOLA offER the following 'Top Six' Beach Swim tips:

1. Bathe and swim between the red and yellow flags which indicate the supervised swimming area: No flags = No Swim

2. Look for, read and obey water safety signs

3. Check water conditions and the water depth before bathing or swimming - never dive head first

4. Bathe and swim under supervision or swim with a mate - never go in alone

5. Never bathe and swim directly after eating or under the influence of drugs including alcohol

6. Learn how to recognise rips and keep clear of these areas - if caught in difficulty stay calm,

float with the current and call out HELP and wave an arm if help is nearby.

AND REMEMBER when out in the sun always SLIP, SLOP, SLAP, SLURP and WRAP (slip on a shirt or rashie, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, drink water, and wear sunglasses).

APOLA is a non-profit professional association that is recognised as the peak professional association for Australian professional beach inspector ocean lifeguards. It promotes best practice in ocean water safety and beach management and coordinates professional ocean lifeguard activity in lifeguard training, community education, tourism support, public relations, regulation and risk management in consultation with councils and their professional lifeguards.

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