Beware of strong currents

Sorrento surf lifesavers: Christine Cougan, Kerry Yates and Kelli Dawson are preparing for the summer beach season. d410299
Sorrento surf lifesavers: Christine Cougan, Kerry Yates and Kelli Dawson are preparing for the summer beach season. d410299

Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club spokeswoman Christine Cougan said people need to know their swimming capabilities, especially with strong currents causing dangerous conditions.

‘Every year almost 90 per cent of beach rescues and at least 40 per cent of drowning deaths are due to rip currents,’ Mrs Cougan said.

Sixteen lifesaving teams patrol the Sorrento coastline, from Marmion Angling Club in the south to Pinnaroo Point in the north.

While lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers watch over the public and provide advice on beach conditions, it’s important for parents to keep a close watch on children, Mrs Cougan said.

Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club Carlo president Carlo Tenaglia said Mullaloo Beach was relatively safe and suitable for people with all types of swimming ability, but it was prone to dumping shore breaks.

‘These are waves which break close or on the shore and can lift people and dump them into the sand,’ Mr Tenaglia said.

‘This can lead to spinal injuries, sometimes with devastating consequences. If swimmers find themselves about to be dumped, they should extend their arms in front of them and use them to protect their head and neck.’

Mr Tenaglia said flash rips can also form when conditions include larger waves and swells.

Bluebottle or Hair Jelly jellyfish are found in the water at both beaches and although their stingers are not generally life-threatening, they can cause distress and discomfort if you come into contact with them.

To avoid cobbler stings, drag your feet along the sand while walking through seaweed patches and if stung, place the limb in hot water to help relieve the pain.

Most of the dangers at the beach and in the ocean can be minimised by swimming between the flags, and by seeking advice from lifesavers and lifeguards, Mr Tenaglia said.

Stay safe in the surf

– Being caught in a rip may feel
like you are in a flowing river.
– Not all rip currents flow
directly out to sea. Some may
run parallel to the beach before
ultimately heading out to
sea.
– Swimmers should swim parallel
to the beach, away from the
rip and once out swimmers
should feel the bottom.
– If you need help, stay calm
and wave your arms to attract
attention.
– Surf Life Saving WA has recently
re-launched the Beachsafe
smartphone app and website
Beachsafe.org.au.
– The website provides information
on WA beaches and features
information on hazards,
patrol times, rescue numbers,
weather and conditions.
– Follow SLSWA on twitter
(twitter.com/SLSWA) and receive
regular updates on beach
information, including safety
messages and shark sightings.