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Better English Vocabulary: Beach Safety in Australia

Updated: Nov 24

a large sign warning of strong ocean currents
Rip Currents Sign at Beach

Introduction - get a better English vocabulary

Everyone loves the beach right? It's a great place to relax and have fun either on the sand or in the water. But there can be dangers too, especially in Australia!

In this article, I will give you a list of useful vocabulary to understand the beach and its dangers, as well as a selection of other useful words and phrases. Although many beaches in Australia have warnings posted beside the beach to warn swimmers of the potential dangers, and often in a variety of languages, not every beach has these signs. So, it's important to be prepared, which is why I am teaching you these words and phrases, not just to develop your vocabulary.

Therefore, here is the list, in alphabetical order, with short explanations. If there are words in the explanations that you are not familiar with, I urge you to check a dictionary.

Alcohol Limits: Consume responsibly.

Beach Wheelchair: For disabled people's accessibility to the beach.

Beach Bag: Used to carry essential items for a day at the beach.

Beach Cricket/Beach Volleyball: games played on the sand of the beach.

Beach Patrol: People responsible for safety and rule enforcement at the beach.

Beach Umbrella: A device that shields people on the beach from the sun.

Boat Safety: Use life jackets when boating.

Bodyboard: A shorter version of a surfboard.

Bodysurfing: riding a wave without a surfboard.

Boogie Board: A small, buoyant board for riding waves.

Erosion: Stay away from eroded areas.

Fireworks Ban: Obey firework restrictions.

First Aid Kit: A collection of bandages, bandaids, etc. for minor injuries.

Fishing Zone: People fishing have to avoid swimmers and surfers.

Flags: Colored flags indicate safe swimming areas. (Swim Between The Flags)

Flotation Device: A life jacket or buoy.

Goggles: Worn to protect your eyes while swimming.

Inflatable Raft: For calm water use.

Jet ski: a motorised motorbike designed for use in the water. Jet skis are often required to operate in a designated area away from swimmers and surfers.

Jellyfish Warning: Jellyfish can give a painful sting and some (Irukandji/sea wasp) can be fatal. Usually found in tropical waters. A warning sign is often posted at beaches if they are found there.

Kiteboarding/Kitesurfing: A sport that involves using a large kite to harness the power of the wind to pull a rider across the water and waves.

Lifesaver Ring/Life preserver: Emergency flotation device shaped like a doughnut.

Lifesaver Tower: Lifesavers can watch swimmers from a high position and alert them of dangers.

Marine Animals: People are urged to observe marine creatures from a distance.

No Alcohol: No drinking on the beach.

No Camping: Camp in designated areas.

No Dogs: Follow pet rules.

No Drones: Operators of drones need to observe drone restrictions.

No Glass: Avoid glass containers.

No Littering: Keep the beach clean.

No Open Fires: Fire safety rules.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device): A life jacket.

Picnic Area: Enjoy meals away from sand.

Reef Shoes: Protect feet from sharp objects while walking on the sharp coral reefs.

Rip Awareness: Learn how to identify rips. If taken out to sea in a rip, do not panic or struggle. Let the current take you back further down the beach. (See the picture above).

Rip Current: A strong, narrow current flowing seaward from the shore.

Rip Current Sign: Identifies potential hazards. Not every beach will have such a sign, so it's useful to be able to look at the water to see the rip.

Sandcastle: Fun beach activity often for children as they make castles from sand.

Sand Dune Warning: Stay on designated paths. (Keep Off The Dunes)

Safe Depth Marker: Indicates safe swimming depth.

Seagull Caution: Avoid feeding seagulls. (Do Not Feed The Seagulls)

Shark Alarm: When a shark is seen close to swimmers, a shark alarm is sounded and lifesavers urge swimmers to exit the water. If a death unfortunately occurs, a sign is posted: Beach Closed.

Shark Net: A barrier to deter sharks.

Stinger: A jellyfish, potentially dangerous.

Sunhat: A wide-brimmed hat to shield from the sun.

Sunscreen: A lotion to protect against UV rays.

Surfboard - often made of fibreglass, it is used to ride the waves.

Surfboard Leash (leg rope): Keeps the surfboard close when you fall off.

Sunburn: Skin damage from excessive sun exposure.

Surf Lifesaving: A volunteer organization providing beach safety and rescue services.

Swell: Ocean waves approaching the shore.

Tide Chart: Predicts the heights of high and low tides.

Underwater Hazards: Rocks, coral, and marine life. Be careful when diving, even into shallow water to avoid serious injuries.

UV Index: A measure of UV radiation intensity.

Water Temperature: A thermometer (or indicator sign) measures the temperature of the water.

Wetsuit: A thermal suit for water sports.

Windsock: Shows wind direction for safety.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, which means there are many other words associated with the beach, not just in Australia but around the world.

But, I hope in this article, you will now be more familiar with the dangers and warning notices, as well as some of the activities and items that are associated with the beach in Australia. More importantly, I hope it leads to you having a much better English vocabulary.

(c) Apex English Tutoring October 2023 - Updated Nov 2023

man in striped long-sleeved shirt talking on a phone.
About the Author

Michael Finemore, MA (Research) CQU, TEFL/TESOL Certificate, an experienced English Teacher, is the Owner-Operator of Apex English Tutoring.

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