Port Macquarie lifeguards are encouraging swimmers to stay safe this festive season.
Six beaches in the Port Macquarie area will be patrolled over the holidays at Town Beach, Flynns, Rainbow, Lighthouse, Lake Cathie and North Haven.
Lifeguard supervisor James Turnham said swimmers need to be aware of swimming in safe, non-rip areas at patrolled beaches this Christmas.
"Things can change quite quickly and rips can move along the beach or appear anytime. We encourage people to know their ability whenever they are at the beach," he said.
"This can be by choosing a depth where you can reach the bottom. If a rip or current comes along you can help themselves back to the beach. For children if they are too deep they are most likely to need help getting back in.
"People panicking while in a rip is what makes them dangerous. Swimming against a rip is not advised because they can be quite strong.
"If people float and save their energy a rip will always end in calmer water or if people are able to swim out of the rip at an angle."
Mr Turnham said currents and rips are a natural part of the beach and swimmers should remain alert to them.
"Wave after wave brings water into shore but somehow that water has to get back out and that's what rips do. They can be in the middle of the beach, against rocky points or flash rips at any point," he said.
"Some beaches have known permanent rips in certain spots. In Port Macquarie there is one against the breakwall at Town Beach and another at the southern end of Flynns Beach against the rocks.
"As swimmers we want to avoid rips but they can be useful for certain people such as surfers to help them get out the back quicker.
"You can usually spot a rip with foamy water moving away from the shore or dark, flat areas of the beach where the waves aren't breaking. These are signs water is moving out to sea."
If you are planning on having a big Christmas feast, you should be thinking about swimming safely, according to Mr Turnham.
"We all eat a lot over Christmas so don't go straight into the water after a big meal and if you are drinking alcohol don't mix that with swimming," he said.
"If you see someone in trouble at an unpatrolled beach we encourage people to call for help straight away because there is no point going in to help someone else if no one knows you're there."
The holiday season is a timely reminder to parents to be vigilant in watching their children, not to be over-confident in the water and swimming at patrolled beaches.
Ninety-eight people drowned in NSW waterways last year, including 26 at beaches according to statistics released by Royal Life Saving New South Wales
A total of 276 people lost their lives to drowning in Australian waterways between July 1 last year and June 30 this year. Over the last decade there have been more than 1000 drowning deaths in NSW.
People aged 45 to 54 are at highest risk of drowning deaths in New South Wales.
For more information on how to stay safe in the water or for information on local beach conditions, download the Beachsafe App.
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