In Western Australia, you will find endless stretches of pristine beaches, turquoise waters, world class surfing, untouched islands and reefs, rugged gorges and encounters with marine life unrivalled anywhere in the world. We want you to enjoy your time and help your family and friends to stay safe, so make sure you are aware of and understand the hazards.
Beaches and coastal areas
The Beachsafe website and mobile app provide comprehensive information and details of nearly 3,500 beaches in Western Australia, including some beaches in parks and reserves. Check this information, ensure you are familiar with it and don't underestimate the risks in coastal environments.
BEN signs (Beach Emergency Number)
Become familiar with BEN signs and take note of the unique code at the beach access point when visiting a beach. Not all beaches will have a BEN sign and number.
The codes have been created with a unique prefix which allows integration with the computer aided dispatch systems used by emergency services such as ambulance, police and fire crews. The signs provide specific location information that is vital when emergency services are deployed.
Also explore our coastal and marine parks and reserves on this website but note that almost without exception, beaches in parks and reserves are unpatrolled.
Exposure to the sun
Be ‘sun smart’ and always wear a hat, a shirt and use sunscreen.
Waves, swells and rips
Large waves and swells can occur in many coastal areas, even on calm days. Waves can sweep over rocky headlands without warning. Powerful rips and undertows can occur. Beware of being trapped by rising tides.
Rip currents are the number one hazard on Australian beaches and are responsible for drownings every year, as well as being the cause of many rescues. Rip currents often lead to drowning when swimmers fight the current, by trying to swim directly back to the shoreline, and become exhausted or panic.
Make sure you are familiar with what to do if you get caught in a rip and other surf safety information provided by Beachsafe.
Cliffs and overhangs
Take special care near coastal cliffs. The erosive power of the ocean and strong coastal winds can make cliffs unstable and prone to collapse, which poses a risk to anyone above or below. Overhangs can collapse suddenly without warning.
Keep a safe distance from cliffs to avoid wind gusts that have the power to blow objects, and even people, off the cliff edge. Supervise children at all times when around cliffs.
Inlet crossings and rising tides
Along the coast you may encounter river inlets that are closed by sandbars, sometimes for many years. These can break following heavy rain and then remain open for several weeks. When the inlet mouth is open, the water may be deep and strong flowing. Do not try to cross an inlet in these conditions.
Beware of being trapped by rising tides. Tide predictions are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Dangerous marine animals
Some marine animals are harmful. They may bite, sting or have sharp spines. Take heed of any warning signs and tread carefully when going into the water. Consider wearing bootees or reef shoes when walking in the water and fins and gloves when snorkelling.