Firefighters and lifesavers are on high alert, with a triple threat on the way - hot temperatures, a long weekend and the start of bushfire danger period.
The mercury is predicted to be well above average, with temperatures in the high 20s on Saturday and Sunday, before soaring to 34 degrees on public holiday Monday.
Beaches and waterways will be busy as locals and holiday makers flock to the coast to cool off.
Lifesavers and lifeguards will patrol each day, and they've urged people to only swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags.
"Know your abilities and limitations in and around the water," Surf Life Saving Illawarra duty officer Anthony Turner said.
"Watch your mates. If you consume alcohol or drugs, do not enter the water and avoid swimming.
"The ocean is a dynamic environment and things can change quickly, including flash rip currents, increased swells and wind changes. If you're caught in a rip current remain calm, float with the current and raise your arm for assistance."
Away from the beach, firefighters will be on standby during the hot weather so they can get to any breakouts immediately.
Dry westerly winds are predicted and any fires that erupt during an 'extreme' fire danger rating will be very difficult to control, NSW Rural Fire Service Illawarra Inspector David Bartlett warned.
"If you don't need to be in a bushfire prone area people should move into areas on the coast," he said.
Three years of wet conditions and excess vegetation growth have left many areas in the Illawarra at high risk, including:
Bushfire danger period runs until March 31, 2024, and anyone wanting to burn off during this time must contact the RFS to obtain a permit.
Visit the Beachsafe website regularly for information on weather, conditions and lifesaving services in your area.
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