More of us are heading to the beach between 5pm and 6pm during the week, prompting lifeguards to keep the red and yellow flags up a little longer.
We’re also beating the heat of the day by hitting the water by 8am on weekends.
So, from now until the end of January, Lake Macquarie beaches will be patrolled for an extra two hours a day.
Lifeguards at Redhead, Blacksmiths, Caves and Catherine Hill Bay beaches will patrol from 8am to 6pm Monday to Sunday.
The change comes after recent data showed an influx of beachgoers heading to the coast before and after work.
Lake Macquarie City Council manager leisure services Brad Sutton said the data was thanks to the Smart Beaches program monitoring beach visitation over the past two years.
“On warm evenings particularly, we’re seeing a large number of people heading to the coast to enjoy our beaches,” he said.
“A lot of these visitors, including families with young children, are turning up just as we’re taking the flags down for the day. And this is often when conditions are at their most hazardous.”
“Smart Beaches monitoring has provided hard data to back up our lifeguards’ observations of visiting habits, creating an excellent case to keep our beaches open longer each day.”
Under the Smart Beaches program, software automatically counts visitor numbers without identifying specific people at all four patrolled Lake Mac beaches.
Head lifeguard Lucas Samways said the figures collected so far this season showed that from Monday to Friday, 5pm-6pm, was the busiest hour for beach visits.
This was closely followed by the 4pm to 5pm period, with 11am to noon the third most popular timeslot.
On weekends, 9am-10am was the busiest period, with each hour getting busier as the day wore on.
The numbers suggest many families waited until the beach was patrolled before heading onto the sand.
“Starting at 8am means families can get to the beach earlier and know patrols will be operating,” Mr Samways said.
“That will be great news for families whose kids are early risers, or who want to get out and about before the day really heats up.”
More than one million people are expected to flock to Lake Mac’s beaches across the 2022-23 patrolled season, making them some of the busiest stretches of the NSW coast outside Sydney.
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