Risk of drownings as swimmers ignore safety warnings on Illawarra beaches

WITH warm temperatures this week, and swimmers continuing to ignore warnings to swim between the flags, lifeguards say there is a real risk of drownings on Illawarra beaches.

Wollongong Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery said over the weekend Council’s professional lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers were kept busy instructing swimmers to stay between the flags.

“The beaches were popular, and lifeguards did need to regularly remind people to swim between the flags,” he said.

“This is worrying as the red and yellow flags indicate the patrolled area that is supervised by lifeguards and where to enter the water.

“Swimmers who go in outside the flags are putting themselves at risk. Drownings are preventable and swimming between the red and yellow flags saves lives.”

Wollongong is home to 17 patrolled beaches from Stanwell Park in the north and Windang in the south and Cr Bradbery said there are plenty of choices when it comes for a dip.

“We’re spoilt for choice and this also makes it easier when social distancing from others even while at the beach,” he said.

“We know Wollongong has great beaches and that they attract people from across the city and further afield. We need to make sure we all continue to practice good social distancing and keep a flag’s length between us when out and about.”

The different flags are used to help identify different beach hazards you will need to look out for. They include:

No flags – no swim.

Red and yellow flags – show the supervised area of the beach that Lifeguards and Lifesavers are monitoring.

Beach closed flag (flag with a no swimming symbol) – shows that the beach is closed due to dangerous conditions.

Black and white chequered flags – indicates the area where board riding and surfing is not permitted.

For the full list of beach locations and patrol hours visit our website. More beach safety tips this summer including our beach safety videos, visit Wollongong City Council’s website.

Council has also implemented a pool booking system to manage the number of people at pools over the summer. The Book My Swim initiative is a free online booking system that allows residents and visitors to make a 1-2 hour pool booking. Visit Council’s website to make a pool booking.

“Here in Wollongong we have fantastic saltwater and freshwater pools. We want to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to use these great facilities,” Cr Bradbery said.

“If you’re planning on having a swim at the pool, make sure you don’t forget to book your swim before you arrive to secure your spot. It’s simple to do, just visit the Wollongong City Council Book My Swim website and place a booking.”

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


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