Lifeguards cop abuse
The verbal attacks have come from both swimmers and surfers, who object to being warned they are at risk.
In one case, a lifeguard was abused for warning two men they were in a rip.
Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said the lifeguard had paddled out to the men at Tallow Beach after it appeared they were heading out to sea. When the lifeguard reached them, they swore at him and ignored his advice.
Mr Leahy said surfers had also reacted angrily to being told they could not surf between the red and yellow flags.
“One bloke said: ‘I’ve lived here for 30 years and I’ll surf where I like’,” Mr Leahy said.
A failure to heed safety warnings is the biggest problem facing lifeguards on North Coast beaches, Mr Leahy said.
Since the start of the school holidays, lifeguards have issued almost 5000 warnings to people on North Coast beaches who have put themselves in danger by swimming in areas outside the flags.
Mr Leahy said the message was simple: “By all means, go to the beach, Have a great time, but listen to lifeguard’s advice. We don’t just make warnings for the hell of it, they are relevant to people’s safety.”