Rip currents claimed 22 lives in the first week of the year, the National Sea Rescue Institute said on Wednesday.
NSRI chief executive Dr Cleeve Robertson said over the 2015/16 festive season, the institute rescued 139 people in 122 rescue operations.
He said there were 41 cases where people had to be rescued from rip currents. 22 of those people drowned.
“Although over the past year we put substantial effort into rip current education, this is an area that needs more work with communities and officials.
“There must be improved signage on dangerous beaches and we need to educate beach goers, making sure that they know that a rip current is the single biggest danger that they face on beaches,” Robertson said.
The busiest days for the NSRI were December 27, with 11 rescues, and January 1, with 10 rescues.
Between December 1 and January 13 2016, the NSRI responded to 21 fatal drowning incidents and 17 non-fatal drowning incidents.
Fourteen of these incidents involved children, eight of whom had drowned, he said.
“Sixty percent of children who got into difficulty drowned. This terrible fact indicates children’s vulnerability and the need for greater preventative intervention,” he said.