It's a danergous combination. A run of very hot days over an Australia Day long weekend. Twin temptations - alcohol and the beach - can easily endanger people unfamiliar with the ways of the surf.
According to a warning issuesd this week by Royal Life Saving, people are trwice as likely to drown on a public holiday when they are drunk and 37 per cent of all drowning deaths on public holidays now involve alcohol.
No surprise either that men account for 75 per cent of drowning deaths or that you're twice as likely to drown on a public holiday if you've been drinking.
Here on the coast, the big concern is people swimming on unpatrolled beaches and not being able to spot dangerous rips that can easily sweep them out to sea.
Just this week we saw a tragedy on the South Coast, when a Sydney woman died after trying to rescue a child caught in a rip at Congo south of Moruya. And north of Wollonong at Austinmer, there was a mass rescue of swimmers caught in a suddenly formed rip.
The surf is a dynamic environment, heavily influenced by wind, tide and the lie of the sand. Newcomers to it often mistake apparently calm spots free of whitewater as safe places to swim. That smooth surface is very often the result of water channelling back out to sea off the beach - in other words a rip.
'White's all right, green is mean" should be the mantra when observing the surf. And swimming at patrolled beaches between the flags should be the ironclad rule. If you can't be seen, you can't be saved.
If salty coasties are feeling a bit smug about their ability to read the beach and the surf, they might find the rate of drowning in inland waterways sobering. Royal Life Saving says one-third of all drowning deaths occurred in inland waterways.
Rivers and creeks can be just as hard - if not harder - to read than the surf, especially if you have a few beers on board.
Alcohol is particularly concerning. Just as it does with driving, alcohol impairs judgment and drunk people tend to overestimate their own ability. A belly full of booze can also make it harder to swim. Get a group of drunk people together and bravado adds another layer of peril.
So the message this Australia Day is to enjoy yourself safely and not mix water activties with alcohol, especially in the fierce heat we're expecting. It's better to swim sober than to risk drowning drunk.