The sun’s out, lockdown restrictions have started to lift and it feels like 2020 is finally getting started! So you’ve rounded up the troops, jam-packed the car with all the essentials (Grandad included!), and you’re headed to the Great British coast for a well-earned break away.
But before you grab your bucket and spade and head to the seaside, we wanted to remind you of some important water safety tips to make sure your trip to the coast is smooth-sailing.
We’ve teamed up with our charity partner the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea, to pull together these top tips…
Wherever possible, go to a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. Before going into the sea, consider your swimming ability and the conditions (for instance, is the sea quite choppy?), and make sure that you have someone with you or watching you so that they can call for help if needed.
If you see a red flag on the beach, this means it’s dangerous to swim and you shouldn’t enter the water. Look out for the green flag to see when it’s safest to take a dip!
Black and white chequered beach flags indicate that the area is for surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft, as well as launch and recovery areas for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard in areas marked by a black and white flag.
Blow up toys, airbeds and lilos are designed to be used in a pool, not the sea where they can be easily swept out.
If you do fancy bringing your favourite blow up toy to the beach (I’m looking at you, inflatable unicorn!), ensure you use them close to shore and children are well supervised. They should only be used between red and yellow flags.
If you see an orange windsock flying, please do not use inflatables as this indicates offshore winds which can blow inflatables further out to sea.
Rips are strong currents that can quickly take swimmers from the shallows out of their depth. If you do get caught, stay calm and don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted. If you can stand, try to wade rather than swim. Where possible, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Raise your hand and call for help.
Tide times can vary throughout the season, so a beach that was clear at 5pm one day, could be under water the next. It’s best not to risk it, so please ask at reception for tide times so that you don’t get caught out.
No one wants sunburn to ruin their holiday, so ensure you slop on the sunscreen (SPF30+), slap on your sun hat and seek shade during the hottest times of the day.
Floating – it might just save your life
If you find yourself unexpectedly in cold water, your instinct may make you try and swim for safety. But floating actually increases your chances of survival.
- If you fall into water, fight your instinct to thrash around
- Lean back, extend your arms and legs
- If you need to, gently move them around to help you float
- Float until you can control your breathing
- Only then, call for help or swim to safety