Craig Warhurst

Lifeguards urge swimmers to be safe

LIFEGUARDS are preparing for their busiest two months of the year, and have this week kicked off extra patrols right across the Northern Rivers.

Almost half of the rescues recorded on local beaches last season were during December and January, and lifeguard operations manager Murray Copas said it was important for families to "put safety first".

"The best way for people to stay safe on the beach this summer is to swim only at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags," he said.

"Some people don't realise that the flagged areas of the beach are not only patrolled by trained lifeguards and lifesavers, they have also been identified as the safest places to swim.

"And always remember - if we can't see you, we can't save you."

The Australian Lifeguard Service's northern lifeguard coordinator, Scott McCartney encouraged people to make the most of their summer holiday.

But he said swimmers should follow all safety warnings.

"If you are ever unsure about the conditions, have a chat to one of the lifeguards or lifesavers on duty before entering the water and always try to swim with a friend where possible," he said.

Until the end of January, council lifeguard services will run weekdays, with weekends included on main beaches.

Volunteer surf lifesaver patrols have been increased on weekends and public holidays to cope with the greater demand.

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