Going to the beach during summer is a way of life for Australians. Keep your family happy and safe in the surf with these tips.
We all love packing our bags and togs and taking our kids to the beach for a day of fun in the sand and surf. You are, however, never too young to learn about surf safety.
The now-famous Bondi Beach Lifeguards (as seen on Bondi Rescue) estimate that, on average, 2,500 people are rescued every year. So, it’s important that as many people as possible know what to look out for to keep their family safe while also having fun.
Many of us have seen and heard of “the flags” at the beach but there are different kinds used to tell the public different things.
Red and yellow flag
This is the one you want to see. You are permitted to swim between the two red and yellow flags as the lifeguards or lifesavers have determined this is the area safest from rips, strong currents and other hazards.
This means the beach is closed and you shouldn’t go in the water.
This is where people are allowed to surf or ride their boards. You shouldn’t swim in this area.
This flag means a hazard in the water. You should also look for the accompanying yellow and black sign which will indicate what kind of hazard is present.
Red and white quartered flag
This flag is calling for an emergency evacuation of the water. As soon as you see this flag, get out of the ocean.
Make sure you scan the shore for any diamond-shaped yellow and black signs. These signs are used to indicate hazards in the water such as rips or box jellyfish. Remember, regardless of these signs you still shouldn’t enter the water unless it is between the red and yellow flags.
If you or your kids get in trouble while in the water, the Bondi Lifesavers recommend you stay calm. Raise your arm to signal for help, float and wait for assistance. Float with a current or rip. Don’t try and swim against it.
Kids at the beach
Surf Life Saving QLD offers many handy hints on their website. In their “Keep An Eye on Kids” fact sheet the team says that playing with your kids is the best form of supervision when at the beach.
“Supervision of children is vital and the best form of supervision at the beach is to actively interact with your children. This means that children should always be within arms reach and observing them should be your constant focus when around the water.”
Teach your kids and remember this handy “F.L.A.G.S” principle when next at the beach:
F — Find the red and yellow flags and swim between them.
L — Look at, understand and obey the safety signs.
A — Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver for advice before you enter the water.
G — Get a friend to swim with you.
S — Stick your hand up, stay calm and call for help if you get into trouble.
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