SAFETY DRIVE: Al Mactier keeps an eye on Byron Bays Main Beach on Monday as the lifeguard season begins. VICKI MOERIG
SAFETY DRIVE: Al Mactier keeps an eye on Byron Bays Main Beach on Monday as the lifeguard season begins. VICKI MOERIG

Lifeguards keeping our beaches safer

By Fay Knight fay.knight@northernstar.com.au

IF YOU are visiting a popular North Coast beach this summer, chances are that there will be a professional lifeguard keeping watch.

The lifeguard service began on Christmas Eve, from the Tweed Coast down to Coffs Harbour, and will continue until January 28.

Launching the Surf Safe Campaign on Christmas Eve, the Northern NSW Lifeguard Co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said lifeguards played a role in ensuring the North Coast was one of Australia's summer destinations.

"People know that they can go to a beach close to where they are visiting and there will be a lifesaving service there on any day of the summer holidays," he said.

Mr Leahy explained that%lifeguards were professional lifesavers who are trained to a high level as part of the Australian Lifeguard Services, which is a part of the Surf Life Saving Association.

The surf lifesavers who patrol on weekends throughout the year are volunteers.

"It's all part of the same organisation," said Mr Leahy.

"We've been providing this service for the past 20 years on the North Coast.

"While Christmas Eve was the official start there have been lifeguards on duty at Byron Bay from early December, and that will go through to the end of April there."

Mr Leahy said that lifeguards and lifesavers were happy to provide advice on surf conditions.

"Conditions can change quickly so talk to one if you are unsure before entering the water," he said.

"Get a friend to swim with you so that you can look out for each other's safety and get help if needed. Children should always be supervised by an adult."

Patrol hours are 9am-5pm daily, except for Salt (8am-10am) and Byron Bay's Main Beach (9am-6pm).



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