Lifeguards 'Spooked' By Drownings Leading Into Dangerous Christmas Heatwave
Beachgoers will be catching waves and heatwaves this Christmas, as lifesavers gear up for their busiest week after a "horror" spate of drownings.
Heading down to the beach for a Chrissy dip is an Australian tradition.
But for NSW, there's a heatwave warning from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to take on board.
"The holiday period is quite a dangerous time and we are expecting heatwave conditions to be ramping up from Christmas Day onward," BOM acting NSW/ACT manager Agata Imielska said on Friday.
The eastern parts of Sydney are looking at a low of 17 degrees and a maximum of 25 on Christmas Day, while those out west can expect temperatures into the mid-30s.
"We are expecting the coastal regions to have more of a reprieve from the heat with the sea breeze, but areas out west, so western Sydney for example, are expecting temperatures of 35 degrees and above," Imielska explained.
"With those heatwaves conditions, at this point in time, we're not seeing an end in sight."
It's these temperatures that have water safety agencies worried, as thousands of people descend on beaches, lakes and rivers to seek refuge from the heat.
“The tragic drowning of three people at Coffs Harbour this week has definitely spooked our surf lifesavers who will be on duty over the Christmas break,” Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said in a statement.
“Big influxes of people descending on our beaches, coinciding with some possible extreme hot weather next week is the perfect storm, unfortunately."
Pearce spoke with reporters early on Friday morning, where he once again highlighted the three drowning deaths at Moonee Beach as part of what SLSNSW has described as a "horror week" on the NSW coast.
Tragically, a short time after the press conference, another man was pulled unconscious from the waters of the same beach. The 60-year-old Swiss national was pronounced dead at the scene.
His death brings the number of lives lost in NSW waterways this month alone to 21.
Christmas is historically the busiest time of the year for Australia's lifesavers. Last year between December 1 and January 31, SLS NSW saw the greatest amount of drownings in the state on record.
How To Stay Safe In The Water Over Christmas
First and foremost, swim at patrolled locations in between the red and yellow flags which will be flying high each day.
Pearce said the majority of coastal drownings are the results of rips -- powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water.
Should you become stuck in one, Pearce said the first thing to concern yourself with is staying calm, before raising your arm to get the attention of lifeguards.
"Please don't try to swim against the rip," he urged.
"Not even an Olympic swimmer can swim against many of our rips in Australia, so just swim diagonally across the rip, stay calm and we'll get our lifesavers out to you."
Aside from how to deal with a rip, Pearce took the opportunity to remind swimmers to be mindful of what they're drinking during festivities.
"If you're thinking about having a few beers over Christmas or a few wines, do not come down into the beach because you'll be a risk to yourself and a risk to others."
Contact the author: email@example.com