Heatwave conditions, dangerous surf and the Australia Day long weekend are combining to create a recipe for disaster, NSW Surf Life Saving authorities have said.
Residents have been warned to take extra care in coming days with thousands expected to flock to beaches around the state while hazardous surf is battering the coast.
“Australia Day is one of the busiest days of the year on our beaches and is always a big day for our volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards,” said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce.
“Enjoy the weekend but make sure that if you’re heading to the beach, go to a patrolled location and only swim between the red and yellow flags,” he said.
Temperatures around NSW are forecast to surge over the coming days amid a severe heatwave sweeping the southeast of the country.
While the west is expected the bare the brunt of the heat, temperatures well into the 30s are expected to drive even large numbers of people to the coast.
A hazardous surf warning is in place for the Byron Coast, Coffs Coast, Macquarie Coast, Hunter Coast and Sydney Coast today due to large swell and strong currents.
Several beaches in Sydney’s east were shut yesterday with waves in excess of three metres seen at popular swimming spots such as Bondi and Bronte.
Director of Lifesaving, Joel Wiseman, said hazardous surf conditions and big crowds expected have raised the stakes for anyone planning to swim at unpatrolled locations.
“Beaches can change quickly during large swell events, including the location of rips, so we’re asking everyone, even strong swimmers, to exercise extreme caution this weekend,” Joel Wiseman said.
“Too often we see tragic incidents where a person has drowned while trying to rescue someone else. You might be a good swimmer yourself, however trying to save someone else, often without any rescue equipment or training is extremely difficult and dangerous,” said Joel Wiseman.
Since 1 July 2020, 20 people have drowned on the NSW coastline.
Surf life saving clubs will also be assisting local councils to ensure COVID-19 restrictions are adhered to.
“We’ll be assisting Councils again this weekend to flag beaches in Beachsafe that are at or near capacity and access is restricted due to over-crowding,” said CEO Steven Pearce.