Lifesavers may close some beaches on the Mid Coast this weekend due to the health risks posed by poor air quality generated by bushfires burning across the state.
The forecast is for poor, very poor or hazardous air quality for much of NSW. The most impacted areas are forecast to be the Lower North Coast, North Coast, Far South Coast as well as the Sydney Basin.
"The welfare of the public and our members is our number one priority. If the red and yellow flags aren't up, it means the beach is closed and lifesavers are not on patrol," director of lifesaving, Joel Wiseman said.
Surf Life Saving NSW has advised all surf club captains and patrol captains across NSW to consider the air quality and refer to the Air Quality Index as part of their routine risk assessment before making the decision to open beaches on Saturday and Sunday.
If air quality is considered an issue that could impact the health of beachgoers, lifeguards or lifesavers on patrol, beaches will be closed and scheduled patrols will be cancelled. Surf sports events and junior Nippers programs may also be cancelled.
Similarly, if smoke haze reduces visibility on beaches to such an extent that surf lifesavers cannot adequately monitor beachgoers, surf conditions and effectively conduct search and rescues, a decision may be made to close a beach until visibility improves.
SLSNSW Director of Lifesaving, Joel Wiseman said that the safety of the beachgoing public and the health and welfare of volunteer lifesavers was paramount.
"We urge members of the public to check signs and ask lifesavers and lifeguards about beach closures and to monitor the Beachsafe app and website for information," Wiseman concluded.
Joel Wiseman said that road closures due to bushfires on the South Coast, may prevent volunteer surf lifesavers from reporting for rostered patrol duty in some locations. Where there aren't enough lifesavers reporting for patrol duty, reduced "surveillance" patrols may operate. In some locations, beaches may be closed.
Surf Life Saving NSW Far South Coast Branch volunteers are on standby to assist the Rural Fire Service with evacuation operations in the Bawley Point area as the Currowan Fire burns out of control. SLSNSW response teams and inflatable rescue boat (IRB) assets have been on standby in the area since Wednesday.
Beachgoers are advised to check the Beachsafe websiteor download the Beachsafe app for the most up-to-date information on NSW beach closures across the weekend.
More information about air pollution and the Air Quality Index:
Beach Safety Tips
- Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the Beachsafe app or website
- Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
- Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
- In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police
- For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe website or download the app.