ANXIOUS lifeguards are pleading with holidaymakers and locals on the Northern Beaches to use commonsense before hitting the water.
The warning from Coffs Harbour City Council lifeguard co-ordinator Greg Hackfath follows some close scrapes at idyllic Moonee Beach, which is not patrolled.
Earlier this week a man entered the surf and got into difficulty. To make matters worse, he was in respiratory arrest but thankfully was rescued.
On Boxing Day, five people had to be hauled to safety after they encountered trouble in Moonee Creek on the outgoing king tide.
"There was lots of current, strong surf and tides that weekend and if those people were swept out as far as the surf, I doubt we would have found them," Mr Hackfath said.
"We urge people to stay out of outgoing creek tides and to know their own ability, and make sure there are at least surfboard riders around.
"Already, surfboard riders have proven their value in rescues up and down the coast. They truly are unsung heroes."
Mr Hackfath said the no flags, no swim message was still the most vital one for people to accept and understand.
"We know people will go swimming outside of flagged areas - let's face it, only 3% of Australian beaches are patrolled," he said.
"People need to use commonsense before entering the water and know their own ability.
"Swim only when there are other people around because if you do get into trouble, you have a better chance of being rescued.
"And if anyone is attempting a rescue, they should use a flotation device, bodyboard or boogie board."
Mr Hackfath said he could not stress enough the importance of swimming at patrolled beaches wherever possible.
Mr Hackfath would like to hear from the brave woman who dragged an unconscious German backpacker from the water at Diggers Beach on December 23.
The 75-year-old had a heart attack when he entered the surf and went straight to the bottom.
If you know who the rescuer is, contact Mr Hackfath on 0418 285 073.
For more information on Coffs Harbour City Council lifeguard services, go to www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/beachpatrols.
Get up-to-date information from the twitter feed: www.twitter.com/CHCClifeguards.