PATROLS of the Port’s most popular summer beach spots will start this weekend.
From Saturday, Birubi, Fingal and One Mile beaches will be patrolled seven days a week between 9am and 5pm.
Volunteer surf lifesavers will begin weekend patrols of the Birubi and Fingal Bay beaches on September 24.
The Port Stephens Lifeguard Service will begin patrolling at One Mile on Saturday, and the Fingal and Birubi beaches from Monday, September 26.
“Seeing the team back on the beach is a sure sign that summer isn’t far away and we’re all really excited about getting back to work,” Port Stephens Lifeguard supervisor Phil Rock said.
“We’ve spent the off-season reviewing statistics and improving our processes.
“We’ll be working closely with volunteer lifesavers to continue to educate beach-goers on how to stay safe at the beach.
“For us, the message is always the same – take note of the conditions before entering the water, always swim between the red and yellow flags and follow the directions of lifeguards or lifesavers.”
Last year was the first of a new five-year contract between Port Stephens Council and the Australian Lifeguard Service to patrol the area’s most visited beaches during the summer months.
The council’s contracts and services coordinator, Ian Crawford, said there had been “significant investment” made into providing new lifesaving equipment which would increase the level of safety on the Port’s beaches.
“The results speak for themselves which is really pleasing for everyone considering there were good attendances across all beaches and a low rate of incidences over what was a busy summer season,” he said.
Birubi Beach Surf Life Saving Club vice president Helen Ratcliffe said that its lifesavers would be helping to spread safety messages this summer.
“Our lifesavers are always happy to give safety advice to beach goers if they're unsure about surf conditions,” she said.
“It’s important that parents stay close to their children, particularly if they are not confident surf swimmers, and keep an eye on where they are in relation to the patrol flags.”
Ratcliffe added that surfboards, including foam boards with fins, are not allowed between the flags.
This year, Birubi will host round one of the Hunter Surf Life Saving Newcastle Permanent Series on Saturday, October 15.
Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club president Brett Woods said he is excited about the new season.
“We’ve been in preparation for a couple of months now, making sure the club is ready to hit the ground running,” he said.
“[The] council has made a significant investment into equipment in recent years for both the ALS and volunteer lifeguards and we were able to see the benefit of that last season.”
Fingal Bay will host to three major events this season: the Hunter Branch Championships, the Hydrothon and the Summer of Surf, which replaces the Nutri Grain Ironman Series.