lifesaver with rescue tube running into the ocean

With tomorrow’s Australia Day public holiday bringing in a long weekend and expected warm weather, Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) is urging beachgoers to exercise caution to ensure a safe and enjoyable day at the beach.

As of the start of summer, WA has recorded four coastal drowning deaths.

SLSWA General Manager of Lifesaving Chris Peck said that while this figure is below last year’s recorded five, now is not the time to be complacent, with research showing that the coastal drowning risk is four times greater on Australia Day.

Since the start of summer, surf lifesavers in WA have performed 193 rescues and 37,484 preventative actions.

“Many of our clubs and lifesaving services will be out there patrolling on Australia Day and across the weekend”, said Mr Peck.

“With 100% of coastal drowning deaths occurring at unpatrolled locations, outside patrol hours, or outside the red and yellow flags, we remind people of the age-old message that if we can’t see you, we can’t save you”, he said.

“Which means the best place to swim remains between the red and yellow flags.”

Alcohol and drugs continue to be one of the leading contributors to these drowning deaths, so SLSWA is urging people to rethink mixing alcohol or drugs with swimming.

“We encourage people to chat to the lifesavers about the local conditions and to heed their safety advice when necessary. Every beach has its unique environment, which can present risks to those unfamiliar with the area”, said Mr Peck.

Last year, there were 21 coastal drowning deaths in WA, a 24% increase from the previous year.

SLSWA’s Beach Safety Tips include:

  • Plan your trip by finding where and when lifesaver patrols are scheduled. Visit or download the free Beachsafe App for local beach patrol details.
  • Swim between the red & yellow flags – this is where the lifesavers can best see you.
  • Remember your limitations, especially when trying out new holiday gifts like stand-up paddle boards. And remember, large inflatables, which a gust of wind can easily pick up, are unsuitable for the beach environment.
  • Remember that alcohol and swimming never mix.
  • On crowded beaches, it is easy to lose sight of children quickly, so stay alert.
  • Wear a lifejacket if you are boating, rock fishing or on watercraft.
  • Stay hydrated, cover-up, and, where possible, seek out shade.

To keep up to date on current hazards, beach closures, shark sightings and warnings, follow SLSWA on X