Beach safety

Swimming in the ocean can be dangerous. In order to have a hassle free day at the beach:

  • Always swim between the flags under lifeguard supervision. No flags, no swim.
  • If you are not an experienced swimmer, don't swim alone. Swim with a friend or under supervision.
  • Don't swim under the influence of drugs or alcohol (most adults who drown in NSW are alcohol affected).
  • Learn to recognise dangerous rips and waves. Often the beach has only gentle waves and currents, but sometimes the waves or currents can be very powerful and overwhelm swimmers. It is important for beach swimmers to learn to recognise the strong currents (rips) and the dangerous waves.

Waverley Council has translated key beach safety messages into languages other than English. Click on this link to access the beach safety messages in other languages.

(Below is an aerial photo of a rip channel of relatively calm water rushing out to sea)


Most people who need rescuing at the beach have been caught in a rip.

Rips can be recognised by contrast with the surrounding sea. eg:

  • If the sea is rough and white, the rip is where there's a channel of calmer looking water.
  • If the sea is calm, the rip is where there's a channel of rippled water.

If caught in a rip

  • Don't panic and don't try and swim back in against the rip.
  • Stay calm, put your hand up.

Dumpers and surging waves

Waves that don't break or waves that break very forcefully should be avoided.

'Dumpers' are waves that break with force, usually at low tide, in shallow water. The crest plunges straight down instead of rolling down. Dumpers can cause serious injury. Anyone who has been dumped can remember the powerful force that kept them pinned onto the sand with the water swirling over them. Waves that don't break at all, surging waves, can knock swimmers over and drag them out to sea.

Further information contact Bondi Lifeguards 9083 8888.