‘Hidden dangers’: beachgoers warned as scorcher looms

Professional Lifeguard Jett Kenny is bracing for a challenging season as an expected hotter summer drives more people to local beaches

A longer and hotter summer season is going to make a swim more enticing than ever, but beachgoers are being warned a dip in the ocean can be deadly if they aren’t swimming in patrolled areas.

Thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers, and professional lifeguards funded by Sunshine Coast Council, are bracing for what is expected to be one of their most challenging seasons.

The 2023-2024 volunteer surf lifesaving season has now begun and will run until early May 2024.

Surf Life Saving Queensland Sunshine Coast Regional Operations Manager Aaron Purchase said a key consideration was the predicted El Nino weather pattern that was likely to spark increased visitation.

Mr Purchase said the pattern historically brought drier and warmer conditions and a reduced risk of cyclonic weather.

“Traditionally, we see more people at the beach and in the water during hotter and drier summers and if they become complacent and stray from the red and yellow flags, they can very quickly get into trouble, sometimes with tragic consequences.

“When it is really rough, it’s obvious that the conditions are dangerous and people stay out, but when it’s seemingly calmer, they enter the water or swim out a bit further than their ability should allow, thinking it’s safe.

“They can easily miss the hidden dangers, like rips. Our advice is always to stick to patrolled areas where lifeguards and lifesavers can see them.”

Throughout 2022-23, lifeguards and lifesavers patrolling beaches in the Sunshine Coast Local Government Area recorded more than 7.5 million visitations and performed 745 rescues and 111,059 preventative actions and administered 3,336 first aid treatments.

Volunteer lifesavers patrol at major Sunshine Coast beaches every weekend and on public holidays from 7am to 5pm from September school holidays to early May with extended hours to 6pm through the busy Christmas holiday period. This vital service supports lifeguard patrols which occur year-round.

Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Cr Rick Baberowski said Council’s continued support for lifeguard services, operated by Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) across the region, was particularly important during what was predicted to be a hotter than average spring and summer.

“Council’s $5.8 million investment in lifeguard services this financial year provides 34 permanent lifeguards, two supervisors, a chief lifeguard and a casual pool of up to 96 lifeguards during peak season, across 22 patrolled beach locations, from North Coolum to Bulcock Beach,” Cr Baberowski said.

“It also provides our professional lifeguards with vital equipment they need to perform their duties including jet skis, rescue boards, flags, first aid kits and portable surveillance cameras for high-risk locations.”

A number of improvements will be made to lifeguard services between Caloundra and Coolum to ensure Sunshine Coast beaches are even safer under the recently endorsed Surf Life Saving Queensland – Sunshine Coast Council Lifeguard Service Plan 2023-2028.

Among the most notable changes is a relocation of the existing lifeguard service, which operates during Queensland school holidays from September to Easter, from Golden Beach (beach access 317) to Happy Valley (beach access 293). This change took effect from September 16, 2023.

Sunshine Coast areas patrolled by lifeguards include:

Level 1 – Major locationAll year.Kings Beach, Dicky Beach, Mooloolaba Main and Spit, Alexandra Headland, Maroochydore, Twin Waters, Mudjimba, Discovery Beach and Coolum
Level 2 – Seasonal serviceSeven days a week between September holidays to May, plus weekends, school and public holidays during winter.Bulcock, Marcoola, Buddina/Kawana, Coolum North
Level 3 – Weekend / holiday serviceWeekends, school and public holidays all year.Currimundi
Level 4 – Lower seasonal serviceWeekends, school and public holidays from September to May.  Kings Beach Pool, Boardwalk, Bokarina and Wurtulla
Level 5 – Summer holiday service onlySchool holidays between September to May.Golden Beach, Maroochy River Mouth and Yaroomba.



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