Beach Safety in Melbourne

Understanding the important of beach Safety in Melbourne is key to enjoying a fun and active holiday in the city. Take on some basic beach rules when visiting Melbourne beaches. It will help towards keeping you, your family and friends safe during your trip.

First, it is highly recommended that you do not go swimming alone. Nor should you go into the water if you have been drinking alcohol.  Swim where the beach and water are patrolled by one of the surf lifesaving clubs. Check that they are on duty before entering the water and always swim between the two flags they will have planted on the beach. Beach Safety in Melbourne includes taking note and observing all of the safety signs on the beach because they are there for a reason.

Rip Currents

Be aware that the force and power of the waves can be stronger than it looks. This is one thing that can get people into trouble, by bowling you over in the water.

Another important factor to be aware of is a ‘rip’. A rip current can occur at any beach, and is a current of water, strongest near the surface of the water, which moves directly away from the shore, breaking through the lines of breaking waves. It can be quite unnerving to be caught in one. Rips might not be much of a concern in the sheltered waters of Port Phillip, but everyone should be aware of the possibility, particularly when swimming in the open waters of Bass Strait, south of Port Phillip, and when heading east towards Lakes Entrance. The same applies in the Southern Ocean, south west of Melbourne and out towards Warrnambool via the Great Ocean Road.

A rip current will suck you down. If caught in one, don’t fight it by trying to swim back to the shore. You’ll be fighting the current and simply exhaust yourself. Remain calm and raise your arm to attract attention. Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver about how to recognise a rip current. Lifeguards are clearly identifiable by their yellow shirts and red hats and shorts.

Sun Protection & Hydration

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re enjoying yourself in the water, and to forget for how long you have been exposing your skin to the damaging UV rays of the sun. Getting sun-burn can be painful, but more important it is harmful to your skin.

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer/melanoma in the world. Don’t stay out there in the water for hours, and consider wearing a T-shirt and/or hat. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only one doing so while swimming!

The same goes for sitting on the beach too. Don’t bake yourself and use some quality sun screen/sunblock/suntan lotion too. Spend some time in the shade, so that you are not exposed to the sun all the time. Another important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, but not alcohol, particularly if you’ll be going into the water.

Dangerous Marine Life

Although there are many types of sharks in Australian waters, most are harmless to humans. There are some very simple tips you can use to minimise your chances of encountering a shark; avoid swimming at dawn or dusk, avoid swimming at river mouths or in murky, discoloured waters, and swim between the flags so lifesavers or lifeguards can alert you to any potential hazards, by the use of a shark alarm or loud hailer.

As for stingers, Bluebottles are a very common stinger around Australia. They have a small blue air-filled sac and usually one single tentacle that can be more than a metre long. The sting can be uncomfortable, but is not more than that. Simply wash off any remaining bits of tentacle, immerse the sting area in hot water, not boiling water, and/or apply cold packs or ice to the area.

Should you see someone in difficulty, or find yourself in difficulty, inform the on-duty lifeguards or lifesavers immediately, or ask someone you are with to notify them immediately. In an emergency, call the police on 000, or if you cannot, ask someone else to, immediately.

Beach Safety in Melbourne is for the guidance of everyone. Be sensible. Remember to apply sun cream regularly, swim between the flags and you’ll have a really good time down at the beach!