A LIFE member of the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club has moved to defend suggestions that the Woolamai Surf Beach doesn’t have adequate safety warning signs.
The rescue of a boogie boarder recently drew questions about a lack of adequate signs at the dangerous beach.
But Michelle Murphy said there are clear signs at the beach which warn about the dangers of swimming alone, and rips and currents.
“Lifesaving Victoria has lots of signs around all waterways and marine areas across Victoria which have information about not only if it safe to swim, but also information about tides and currents, location markers and things,” she said.
“At Woolamai there are signs that point you to where patrolled beaches are so if you’re going to go swimming you should swim at patrolled beaches between the flags.
“There’s no 24 hour patrolled beaches anywhere in the world, and we provide patrols at beaches at Phillip Island between November and Easter.
“We make every effort to ensure people are safe when we’re on duty and that there are danger signs, particularly at Woolamai.
“Woolamai is a rip and bar beach which means it always has rips there. Unless you’re a lifesaver, a strong swimmer or have an understanding of what a rip looks like and what bars look like, you shouldn’t be swimming there.”
The beach has a hazard rating of 8/10 on the Surf Life Saving Australia Beachsafe website, which is rated as highly hazardous.
Despite warning signs, Michelle conceded that people will continue to take risks.
“We have signs that explain the dangers and hazards of beaches, the same as there are signs that show rock fishing is dangerous, but people still go rock fishing and get swept off rocks,” she said.
“There are boom gates at railway crossings and people will still walk under and cross the railway tracks.”
The key to reduce drowning at local beaches is education, Michelle said, which must be a priority for those wishing to swim at beaches.
The Nippers program run by Woolamai Beach SLSC during the summer is the perfect way to educate your children about water safety.
Nippers provide a point of entry into the surf lifesaving movement whilst promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.
A typical morning in the program sees the children doing warm up exercises, playing beach games, running, competing in beach flag competitions, swimming, board paddling, engaging in simulated rescues, watching rescue demonstrations, engaging in surf awareness/SunSmart activities and learning about local environmental issues.
Registrations for Nippers for six to 12 year-olds opened on Friday and can be accessed via www.woolamaibeach.asn.au
The Woolamai Beach SLSC also offers the Surf Rescue Certificate for those aged 13 and over and the Bronze Medallion for those aged 15 and over.
Details for these camps are available from the website.
Signs are there, risks still taken