Lifeguards are predicting open beaches along the north coast could be closed over the next few days, with southerly winds set to whip up big seas and strong currents and rips.
The warning follows a dramatic rescue of two teenage girls at the southern end of Angels Beach, Ballina, yesterday.
The girls who had been holidaying at the Flat Rock Tent camp were swimming around 2pm when they got into difficulty approximately 300 metres off-shore.
A camp chaperone spotted the danger and alerted police who then alerted the lone Australian Lifeguard Service member who was patrolling Shelly Beach which was approximately one kilometre around the headland.
The lifeguard, Saul Duran, put his ten years of experience to the test as he closed down Shelley Beach to run more than a kilometre and a half to Angels Beach.
He then swam out and was able to rescue the girl closest to shore with the assistance of a local body boarder.
He then paddled out about 500 metres off-shore to rescue the second girl.
A second lifeguard from nearby Lighthouse Beach also attended where he commenced initial first-aid.
Both girls were later transported to hospital for further assessment as they had swallowed significant amounts of water during their ordeal.
Northern Lifeguard Supervisor Scott McCartney told Echonetdaily that the girls were lucky to be alive.
‘They were also lucky that it was Saul who responded because he is quite an experienced lifeguard,’ Mr McCartney said.
Mr Cartney added that conditions were predicted to get worse over coming days, and that guards would not hesitate to close beaches if they were deemed to be dangerous.
McCartney said the rescue yesterday was a timely reminded of the importance of swimming at a patrolled location.
‘Fortunately today’s rescue had a positive outcome thanks to the fact that the people on the shore were alert to the danger, but at an unpatrolled beach this isn’t always the case,’ he said.
‘On days such as today when dangerous surf warnings have been issued it is important that people are aware that the warnings are in place and ensure they only swim at patrolled locations.
‘We urge everyone to be aware of their limitations, and if they have any doubt whatsoever it is better not to go out.
‘The ocean environment can change extremely quickly and just because it looks flat now doesn’t mean it will be that way in ten minutes.’