Ensure your children know to always swim between the red and yellow flags. This is where the lifesavers (lifeguards) patrol and can help if you have problems in the surf. If there are no flags, ask a lifeguard if there is a safe place to swim, and if there is no lifeguard, find another beach!
Avoid plunging waves or “dumpers” as these break with tremendous force and can easily throw you onto a shallow sand bar beneath the wave, which can in turn, cause serious injury. Waves can be deceptive — it is safest for children to always swim with an adult.
If you happen to get caught in a rip, the most important thing to remember is don’t panic. Rips form where water moves over the sand bars towards the beach, returns back to sea via the channel between the sand bars. Never attempt to swim directly back to shore, but go with the rip and it will slowly take you across the beach. Raise your arm to indicate you are in trouble, float and wait for assistance from a lifeguard.
Box jellyfish (stingers)
The south-western stinger is the most prominent jellyfish in Perth waters over the summer season. It is cube-shaped and can reach 3.5cm in length and its four tentacles can range from 10cm to 36cm. When those tentacles brush over you it can be a painful sting but it is not dangerous.
The stinger tends to populate the water in swarms, so if there is one there will be quite a few. They are prevalent from the end of December to February.
While vinegar and ice have been flagged as treatments for a sting, hot water is the best way to ease the pain.
Bluebottles, with their transparent blue sac and long, trailing tentacles invade some beaches periodically, particularly over the summer months. They can appear very attractive to inquisitive children, who should be warned they can give a very painful sting. Children should avoid them in the water and on the beach and be advised never to pick them up. Lifeguards will warn swimmers, usually with a sign, if bluebottles are prevalent, and will treat anyone who is stung. The easiest remedy is hot water (cold will do) but it will take a little while for the sting to subside. They are not deadly.