The beach is a wonderful place to be, but if you are not used to living by the sea, it is important to remember that although it is lots of fun, it can also be dangerous and the RNLI lifeguard services are currently limited on beaches in the UK due to COVID19.
Living in Dorset, we were shocked by the treatment of our beaches at the beginning of the month, with thousands of visitors leaving over 20 tonnes of litter behind, including smouldering barbecues, sanitary products and human waste as well as dozens of rescues with people not understanding the dangers of the sea.
10 top tips for staying safe on the beach
1. Where possible use a lifeguarded beach
On a lifeguarded beach, there are trained professionals there to help keep you safe, both in and out the water. Currently the lifeguarded beaches in Dorset are: Bournemouth East, Boscombe East, Boscombe West and Sandbanks, but you can find a full list at rnli.org/find-my-nearest/beaches-with-lifeguards-on-patrol.
2. Understand beach signs and flags
Always swim between the red and yellow flags which is the safest location on the beach and even in nice weather, the sea can be unpredictable so make sure you swim with your kids.
3. Beware of the waves
Wave jumping and body boarding are some of our favourite beach activities, but waves can be dangerous.
In Bournemouth and Poole, we are quite sheltered, which is perfect for wave jumping but if its windy, or you are visiting a more exposed coastline the waves can become really strong and powerful.
4. Beware of rip currents
Rips are strong currents running out to sea between waves, which can quickly drag people and debris away out to deeper water.
If you get caught in a rip, don’t try and swim against it, swim parallel to shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always shout for help.
5. Don’t jump off cliffs / piers into the sea
Jumping off cliffs, rocks or manmade structures is known as tomb stoning and is very dangerous, unless you are doing it as part of an organised coasteering group with trained experts.
Not only do you not know how deep the water is, or if there are any underwater hazards, but you could also develop cold water shock which affects your breathing and movement.
6. Don’t take inflatables to the beach
Blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept out.
If you do take them out, always use them close to shore and closely supervise those using it and never use them when the orange windsock is flying, as this indicates offshore winds which will blow inflatables further out to sea. Instead choose to use a paddleboard or body board.
7. Be sun safe
Sunburn can be really painful and increase the risk of skin cancer in later life. Make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen and put the kids in UV suits and hats that help protect them from the suns rays.
8. Wear a Wet Suit
If you are planning on spending a lot of time in the water, a wet suit will help to keep you warm and comfortable, allowing your body to perform more efficiently.
9. Beware of tides
Tide times and heights vary throughout the month and can easily catch you out if you haven’t checked them. The UK and Ireland have some of the biggest tidal ranges in the world, so make sure you check the tide tables and direction before you head out.
10. Take your rubbish with you
There is nothing worse than building a sandcastle or playing beach games and finding broken glass, or rubbish as you dig.
Take a bag with you for your rubbish and leave the beach as you found it. If you do use a disposable barbecue, make sure it is fully extinguished and cold before you throw it away.
Have you managed to visit the beach recently?