New technology will help emergency services keep our beaches safe this summer, amid predictions that the number of visitors to the Illawarra region are set to soar.
Four emergency response beacons have been installed at Wollongong beaches - one at Puckeys, one at Sharkys, one at East Corrimal and one at Coniston beach - to save emergency crews precious minutes.
The beacons are solar powered and can be activated by pressing a button for an immediate connection to State Operations, who asses the emergency and send life guards and ambulance crews to the scene as needed.
In addition, a new vehicle funded by Isuzu will help duty officers get around the Windang, Lake Illawarra and Port Kembla region.
The Department of Primary Industries has also contributed a patrol drone for Stanwell Park.
This is in addition to Surf Life Saving Illawarra's five jetskis, and IRBs.
The most important resource for keeping people safe on the beach this summer, however, is common sense.
Wollongong Police Chief Inspector Darren Brown called on beachgoers to take care.
"We do expect increased numbers on our beaches, not just locals but people from Sydney as well," he said.
"We're encouraging people to get out and have a bit of fun after lockdown, but that comes with certain responsibilities.
"We have seen a number of drowning and boating accidents over recent years, and we fear we will see more this summer.
"Monitor the conditions, follow the advice of surfe life savers and life guards and swim between the flags.
"If you are unsure of the conditions seek advice from life savers."
Anthony Turner, director of life saving at Surf Life Saving Illawarra, said with COVID still circulating beachgoers must use common sense.
"The good news is as our vaccination rates have risen all 17 clubs are back in action," he said.
"If you're feeling unwell, stay home.
"If the beach is crowded, spread out and socially distance."