Australian beaches are among the world's most beautiful and enticing attractions: sapphire seas along miles of endless golden sand.
But consider: deaths have occurred on Australian beaches, numerous instances of which are of visitors to Australian shores.
Beach safety should be of primary consideration and following a few safety rules should result in a worry-free enjoyment of Australian beaches.
The first rule of beach safety is: Swim between the flags.
These are red and yellow flags which you will find on most popular Australian beaches. They indicate not only which stretch of water is safe to swim in but also an area where surf lifesavers keep a watchful eye on those in the water.
Some dangers you may face outside these "flagged" areas are submerged rocks, irregular water depths, and rips (underwater currents).
If caught in a rip, remember to swim across it rather than against it.
Swim or surf at places patrolled by surf lifesavers or lifeguards.
Of course, there are beaches where no surf lifesavers are present and the water entices you to take a dip.
See if there are signs on the beach. They may warn of hidden dangers (such as the presence of poisonous jellyfish in northern Australia).
If there are no warning signs and you want to swim in an unpatrolled area, swim with someone else and avoid areas close to rocks.
If you get into trouble in the water on patrolled beaches, don't panic. Raise your arm as a sign you're in trouble, float and wait for help.
Other safety tips
It's best, of course, that you always swim under supervision.
If you are unsure of beach or surf conditions, do ask a surf lifesaver. He's there to help.
Don't swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Don't swim directly after a meal.
The danger of developing skin cancer is real. Use a sunscreen of appropriate strength and do wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses if staying under the sun for long periods.