Staying safe at the beach this summer

Lions mane jellyfish Melbourne

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted January 25, 2022

Australia is known worldwide for having some of the best beaches in the world, and many of them are here in Victoria. What is lesser known, is the dangers that come with them.

While visiting the beach is one of the best ways any Aussie or tourist can spend a hot summer’s day, there are serious hazards at the beach that everyone needs to be aware of.

Whether you’re taking the dog for a run at a dog-friendly beach, or enjoying the water with the family during a heatwave, some of the hazards you can encounter include jellyfish, rips, and the blazing sun.

Make sure you and your family know the dangers of the beach and how to stay safe this summer.

Beach safety tips

Beware jellyfish

Jellyfish are everywhere this summer, including the bright red flower-looking lion’s mane and the infamous bluebottle jellyfish. The warmer weather and the water currents lead to the increase in jellyfish being spotted along Victoria's beaches, including Melbourne.

Anyone who has been stung by a jellyfish knows that it can be extremely painful. And while there is an urban legend that urine dampens a jellyfish sting, it does not work!

If a jellyfish sting does occur, HealthDirect Australia advises to immediately remove any remaining tentacles, and make your way to a nearby Lifesaving Unit to apply a cold pack and/or vinegar to the area for 10 minutes or more. If symptoms are severe, call 000.

Swim between the flags

The best way to stay safe in the ocean is to swim between the flags, and never swim alone.  The red and yellow flags indicate that the area is being supervised by a lifesaving service and that the area is not currently found to be a hazardous place to swim.

Avoid getting caught in a rip

Largely unknown to tourists, rips are strong currents that start at the shore and run from the beach. Some rips are so strong that some people describe it as being pulled in a fast-flowing underwater river.

If you find yourself in a rip, Surf Lifesaving Victoria Australia advises:

  • Not to panic
  • To raise an arm with a fist to motion to lifesavers that you need assistance
  • Float with the current, which may return you to a shallow sandbank
  • To swim parallel to the beach or towards the breaking waves until you escape the rip current


Swim between the flags

Always remember to swim between the flags. Image: Getty. 


Always keep your eyes on children in the water

Parenting is hard at the best of times, so if you have two or more kids at the beach, it can be a challenge to keep an eye on them all at once. Keep your family together and make sure that if one of your kids wants to head for a dip, join them.

Drowning is a major cause of death for children under five, with 12 children drowning during 2019-2020.

In water, always accompany children and adults who can’t swim. Not knowing how to swim as an adult is probably much more common than you think, as swimming only became part of the curriculum recently.

Life jackets

Cruising around on boats and jet skis is a lot of fun – as long as these pastimes are conducted safely.

Lifejacket laws are enforced by marine authorities. Ensure everyone onboard has access to a lifejacket, and on a boat, that everyone under the age of 10 is wearing one at all times for boats over 4.8m. Everyone on board must wear a life jacket for boats less than 4.8m in length.  

Stay sun smart

While many may have the urge to race to the beach during the hotter weather, it’s important to stay vigilant in a country that has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.  As well as getting a yearly skin check, make sure to take steps to beat the heatwave or if travelling outside, the old adage still applies:

  • Slip-on a shirt
  • Slop on some sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on some sunglasses


Olympian Mack Horton talks pool safety. An initiative between RACV and the Royal Life Saving Society Association.
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