PROFESSIONAL beach lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers kicked off their patrol season on Lake Macqurie and Central Coast beaches at the weekend.
In Lake Macquarie, the beaches at Blacksmiths, Caves, Catherine Hill Bay and Redhead are patrolled. Patrol times are 9am to 5pm, seven days a week.
There are 15 patrolled beaches on the Central Coast - including Soldiers, and Budgewoi - while the Grant McBride Baths, at The Entrance, is also patrolled.
Patrol times on the Central Coast are also 9 to 5, although from December 21 to January 27, the Central Coast patrols continue until 6pm.
As beachgoers flock back to the beaches this season, council lifeguards urge families to put safety first when planning a day at the beach.
Lake Macquarie City Council's acting beach lifeguard service team leader, James McMorland, said the flagged areas of the beach had been identified as the safest places to swim.
"The best way for people to stay safe is to swim at patrolled beaches, between those red and yellow flags," he said.
It's a familiar message, sure, but it's one everyone is urged to take a minute to consider, rather than dismiss as white noise.
"Our professional beach lifeguards are here to help so if at any time you are unsure about the conditions or have any other concerns, have a chat to one of the lifeguards before entering the water."
Last season there were were 248 rescues, 1,432 first aid incidents, 5,803 preventative actions and an impressive 940,000 people visited Lake Macquarie beaches.
Central Coast Council's beach safety team leader, Craig Healy, said while local beaches would be supervised, everyone needs to be surf smart.
"You can rest assured that when you visit one of our patrolled beach locations, that you will be in good hands," Mr Healy said.
"Council's lifeguards patrol our shorelines from Monday to Friday, and Surf Life Saving volunteers keep everyone safe on weekends and public holidays.
"However, everyone is reminded to be surf smart by swimming between the red and yellow flags."
Beach goers are also reminded to follow these other important safety tips:
- swim only at supervised beaches;
- if you get into difficulty, stay calm, raise your arm and yell for assistance;
- never run or dive into the water, as the depth can change quickly;
- children should always be supervised by an adult;
- if you are unsure of the conditions, ask a lifeguard or lifesaver;
- always obey the signs which indicate any hazards present;
- always listen to the lifeguards and lifesavers; and
- if you're going rock fishing, plan ahead - wear appropriate gear, let others know where you are going, and carry a phone.
For more information and patrolled beach locations on the Central Coast, visit centralcoast.nsw.gov.au/beaches
To find a patrolled beach near you in Lake Macquarie, visit better.lakemac.com.au.