Coffs Harbour City Council, Lifeguard team leader, Greg Hackfath. Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
Coffs Harbour City Council, Lifeguard team leader, Greg Hackfath. Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate

Risk rises with flags gone

THE red and yellow flags might be gone from our beaches, but danger is always present.

With Covid-19 restrictions, more people are visiting beaches to get fresh air and exercise. For those who choose to swim rather than stroll along the sand, lifeguards are saying be cautious.

"We did a rescue on Thursday afternoon. An Irish family came to Park Beach, the kids jumped straight into a rip and were straight away in trouble," said Greg Hackfath, team leader Lifeguard Services.

"Normally we'd have the flags out and of course that's where people congregate, but with current Covid-19 restrictions there are no large groups and no flags," Mr Hackfath said.

"Now more than ever people need to be aware of beach conditions and children be under close adult supervision."

Volunteer surf lifesaver patrols ended late March and Coffs Harbour City Council lifeguards have operated a surveillance-only service at Park, Sawtell and Woolgoolga beaches. This stops on April 26 when Park Beach, will be the only beach left in the LGA with a surveillance service.

"Normally we're flat out at this time of year. It's been obviously quieter under the Covid-19 conditions and, with holiday-makers staying away, Easter was quiet. Most people are doing the right thing," Mr Hackfath said.

"It's understandable people want to get outside during this lockdown, still go swimming and surfing and also walking along the beach. The beach is the perfect place for your mental and physical health."

Lifeguards say: if you want to swim, go to "Parky" and head to the tower.

"Come to the tower, we're here seven days from 9am to 4pm and we can let you know where to swim. Park Beach is 2.4km long, and if you jump in anywhere, by the time we get there you could be in trouble," Mr Hackfath said.

"We are guided by state and government restrictions and as soon as we are advised we can, we will put the flags up."