South coast lifeguards are warning visitors from the region to be safe in the water as they head to the beach this summer, predicting a sharp rise in the number of rescues in coming weeks.
While it's been a slower start to the season compared to previous years, with no people from the Canberra and Queanbeyan region yet pulled from the water, lifeguards expect rescues to spike during the new year, as more people head to the coast.
Figures from Lifeguarding Services Australia, the contractee patrolling beaches in the Eurobodalla Shire Council near Batemans Bay, show there have been nine rescues since December 1.
Since the start of summer there were three incidents requiring an ambulance, including a 12-year-old-boy suffering a severe leg wound after being cut by a surfboard fin, as well as 53 instances of first aid.
Director of life saving for the far-south coast, Andrew Edmunds, said while the numbers had been relatively low, people patrolling the beaches would have their work cut out for them during the next few weeks.
"Based on those figures, the number of rescues is well down on previous years, and that indicates that people are either heeding warnings or swimming at patrolled locations," he said.
"However, we've really only had a few days of peak-holiday time since Christmas, and those numbers will head up.
"New Year's Day and Australia Day are our busiest days for the year."
During the past full summer, there were 107 rescues for the season, while 193 people required first aid and six needed an ambulance.
Lifeguarding Services Australia chief executive Stan Wall said normally Canberrans made up more than 90 per cent of rescues on south coast beaches patrolled by the service.
He said he expected that trend to continue during the months ahead as visitor numbers to the beaches increased.
"We don't usually start to get rescues until after this week, there'll be more people heading to the coast," he said.
"From our point of view, beaches are still quiet up until this week, so last week we were seeing visitor numbers of around 800 people across the shire, but now it's swinging between 800 to 100 people per day."
While rescues have remained low during the first few weeks of summer, lifeguards are warning swimmers not to be complacent.
Across the state, drownings are up this season, with 17 deaths this summer compared to 12 the year before.
Scott Cunningham from Surf Life Saving New South Wales said young men were particularly at risk.
"Within NSW, 90 per cent of those who drown are males, and 32 per cent of those are 20 to 39-year-olds," he said.
"At this time of year, people move from where they live inland or in metro areas and drive to the coast for their holidays, and they're generally not familiar with beaches that they're going to."