Beach and Water Safety
At the beach and in the water
Sun Safety and Protective Clothing
- Always wear a broad-brimmed hat and a shirt with collar and sleeves, apply broad-spectrum SPF 30+ (or higher) sunscreen and wear sunglasses.
- Avoid the sun between 10am and 3pm (including cloudy days).
- Drink water to avoid dehydration.
- Ensure you wear appropriate footwear such as sturdy boots and socks in outback and rainforest areas.
- Reefwalking also requires sturdy footwear.
- Warm clothing is necessary in some hinterland and outback regions, as temperatures drop to below 0ºC at night (winter months June - August).
- For more information visit the Queensland Cancer Fund
Surf, Swimming and Coastal Safety
Queensland’s surfing beaches are located in the south-east corner of the State, stretching from Rainbow Bay on the New South Wales border north to Agnes Waters, south of Gladstone. The rest of the Queensland coastline is sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef and provides still water swimming.
Surf lifesavers patrol the majority of Queensland’s beaches. Australia has a proud tradition of volunteer Surf Life Saving and Royal life Saving. Many Queenslanders give up their time to try to make ocean waters safer for you — please read the signs and ask about beach conditions.
- At the beach always swim between the red and yellow flags - not outside them. The flag mark the safest place to swim and the area where lifesavers and lifeguards patrol.
- Many surf beaches in Queensland have strong currents, called rips. These are powerful currents of water that can drag you along. If you get caught in a rip, do not panic. Stay calm, float with the current and raise your hand, or swim across it not against it.
- Read and obey warning signs on beaches, beach access points and at waterways. If you are unsure of the beach surf conditions check with a lifesaver.
- Avoid contact with any sea creatures you might encounter at the beach. They may look harmless yet some sting or bite.
- Crocodiles can be found around rivers, freshwater lagoons and coastal beaches in northern Queensland. Read and obey warning signs.
- Always swim with others. Children should always be accompanied in the water with an adult who can swim.
- Always wear a shirt, hat sunglasses and sunscreen lotion
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs or in darkness when the water is unknown.
- Never jump or dive into shallow water, a rockpool, creek, lake or river as there could be immersed rocks and logs.
- Know your health limitations when considering diving, snorkelling, swimming or other active pursuits.
Swim safely by not:
• Swimming at unpatrolled beaches
• Going for a swim at night
• Swimming under the influence of alcohol or drugs
• Running and diving into the water, especially in rivers, lakes and dams where you cannot see the bottom
• Swimming directly after eating a meal
• Allowing children to swim unsupervised
During the warmer months, October to June, marine stingers may be present in tropical waters. There are a few simple precautions to minimise the risks to swimmers of two potentially dangerous jellyfish (the Box Jellyfish and the Irukandji Jellyfish).
Tips for safer swimming in tropical waters include:
- Wearing full protective clothing (i.e. a lycra "stinger suit" or wet suit) to reduce exposure to potential stings, stinger suits are available for hire.
- Swimming in stinger resistant enclosures where they are provided (these give a high degree of protection, but are not stinger proof).
- The enclosures are generally operated during the higher risk period from November to May.
- First aid priorities for tropical marine stingers:
1. Call for help — Dial 000 for ambulance (or from mobile phone dial 112)
2. Emergency care — DRABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation) If the person’s condition deteriorates before help arrives it may be necessary to perform Expired Air Resuscitation (EAR), when there is a pulse, but no breathing; if there is no pulse and breathing is absent start Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
3. Treat the sting — Pour vinegar onto sting for a minimum of 30 seconds.
4. Seek medical aid — Transport to hospital.
Symptoms for Irukandji stings may take 20 - 40 minutes to develop. If in doubt follow the first aid priorities and seek medical advice.