Lifeguard call for high risk hotspots

RACHEL CURRYBusselton Dunsborough Times
Smiths Beach, Yallingup
Camera IconSmiths Beach, Yallingup Credit: Busselton Dunsborough Times

Two Capes beaches have been revealed as hotspots for lifeguard rescues.

Surf Life Saving WA statistics show 153 people were rescued at Yallingup beach last summer, the second highest number of rescues in the State.

Smiths Beach also made the top ten beaches for rescues, with 40 people being pulled from the water.

The high rescue numbers come despite Yallingup and Smiths Beach clocking up some of the lowest patrol hours in WA. The beaches are not patrolled by volunteer surf life savers and the City of Busselton funds two professional lifeguards from late December to early February only.

Nine deaths have been recorded in the South West in the past decade, one third of those at Smiths Beach.

Surf Life Saving WA community safety manager Chris Peck said Yallingup and Smiths Beach were extremely popular surf beaches with inherent hazards and risks.

“With the combination of warm weather, surf, rips and high beach usage, it is foreseeable that a number of rescues occur, ” he said.

“Yallingup particularly is a high risk beach in regards to its large shore dump, flash rips and large surf.”

Mr Peck said most rescues were caused by people getting caught in rips and not seeking advice or following advice of life guards. He urged beachgoers to read safety signs, swim between the flags, ask lifeguards for advice, swim with a friend, and if in difficulty, call for assistance by raising your hand.

A number of inexperienced body boarders and surfers also required rescuing through the busy period, he said.

“The conditions in the South West are a lot more powerful than the metropolitan region, ” Mr Peck said. “Often inexperienced surfers would see other more experienced surfers using the breaks and follow, not knowing that it can be extremely hazardous.”

Smiths Beach Surf Life Saving Club president Matt Jones said as a new club of less than five years old they did not currently conduct patrols, but it was something they were looking into.

“There’s definitely a requirement to have more life guard exposure there and I’m sure Smiths Beach Life Saving Club will fill the void in the next few years, ” he said.

The State Government also funds life guard services at Bunker Bay and Meelup Beach during the school leavers and Christmas holiday period.

SLSWA and the City of Busselton said they were in regular communication about whether more lifeguards were needed.

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