Pack your sunscreen, a hat and some common sense when you hit the beach this Australia Day long weekend, an Illawarra lifeguard has urged.
Kiama Municipal Council lifeguard supervisor Jamie Caldwell is hoping to avoid a repeat of New Year's Day, when six people needed rescuing in two separate incidents at Bombo Beach.
He appealed to beachgoers to not let their guard down while enjoying the surf throughout the busy long weekend.
"People do let common sense go out the window sometimes and forget the important key messages because they are having such a great time," he said.
Inflated egos and impaired judgment thanks to alcohol could contribute greatly to poor decision making at the beach, Mr Caldwell said.
"If people are going to be drinking they need to be well away from any bodies of water and be responsible," he said.
Mr Caldwell urged beachgoers to stick to patrolled beaches and always stay between the red and yellow flags.
"If you're at an unpatrolled location and you get into trouble there's a good chance that no-one can see you get into trouble and that means nobody can help you," he said. "Common sense needs to prevail this weekend."
About 2pm on New Year's Day, a member of the public spotted a man in trouble at an unpatrolled section of Bombo Beach and rushed in to help. He held the man up while lifeguards were called to the scene to help him.
Just 2½ hours later, triple-0 received a call reporting five people caught in a rip, also at Bombo.
They were pulled out of the water by members of the public who happened to be walking past.
"If people are at an unpatrolled location and they see someone in trouble, call triple-0 and ask for police," Mr Caldwell said.
Although the beach safety messages were often repeated, he said lifeguards and lifesavers were prepared to sound like broken records if it meant saving lives.
"Whether it's people being selfish about where they are swimming, or whether they just haven't been educated in the right way, it's something that we've got to keep trying our hardest to get out there," he said.
Visit beachsafe.org.au for more beach safety information.
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