Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-318
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-318

  24 Nov 2021

24 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Characteristics and beach safety knowledge of beachgoers on unpatrolled surf beaches in Australia

Lea Uebelhoer1,4, William Koon1,4, Mitchell D. Harley2,4, Jasmin C. Lawes1,3,4, and Robert W. Brander1,4 Lea Uebelhoer et al.
  • 1School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, 2052, Australia
  • 2Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, 2052, Australia
  • 3Surf Life Saving Australia, Sydney, 2026, Australia
  • 4UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, 2052, Australia

Abstract. The majority of drowning deaths on Australian beaches occur significant distances away from lifeguard services. This study uses results of 459 surveys of beachgoers at five beaches unpatrolled by lifeguards in New South Wales, Australia to improve understanding of who visits these beaches and why, and to identify risk factors associated with their beach safety knowledge and behaviour. Many unpatrolled beach users were infrequent beachgoers and weak swimmers, with poor rip current hazard identification skills, who did not observe safety signage that was present, and yet intended to enter the water to swim despite being aware that no lifeguards were present. The survey found that the main reasons beachgoers visited unpatrolled beaches were because they were conveniently close to their holiday accommodation, or they represented a quieter location away from crowds. Future beach safety interventions in Australia need to extend beyond the standard ‘swim between the flags’ message in recognition that people will always frequent unpatrolled beaches. Future beach safety interventions for unpatrolled beaches should be tailored towards the varied types of demographic beach users, such as domestic tourist families, males, and day visitors attracted by social media.

Lea Uebelhoer et al.

Status: open (until 05 Jan 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-318', Anonymous Referee #1, 28 Nov 2021 reply

Lea Uebelhoer et al.

Lea Uebelhoer et al.

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Short summary
Beachgoers at unpatrolled Australian beaches were surveyed to gain an understanding of their demographics, beach safety knowledge and behaviour. Most visited unpatrolled beaches out of convenience and because they wanted to visit a quiet location. Despite being infrequent beachgoers, with poor swimming and hazard identification skills, most intended to enter the water. Authorities should move beyond the ‘swim between the flags’ safety message as people will always swim at unpatrolled beaches.
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