Being Beach Smart: What You Need to Know About Coast Safety
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Going on holiday is a chance to relax and rewind. Many people enjoy going to the beach to soak up the rays, enjoy a good book and take a dip in the water. But you’ve got to be beach smart. Accidents happen when people are ill-prepared and fail to follow safety procedures. To ensure you have a stress-free beach experience, here are five key things you need to know:
1. Don’t try and swim against rip tides
The Australian Beach Safety Guide says the best way to picture a rip tide is to imagine a river running back out to sea. When waves come rushing to the beach, all that water must flow back out somehow. It does this by flowing back under the breaking waves and forming a deep channel of water – known as a rip tide.
The safest way to escape a rip tide is to swim either right or left of the direction it’s trying to take you, parallel to the shore. Swimming directly towards the shore is almost impossible.
2. Go to a beach with a lifeguard
You’ll be safest by finding a beach with a lifeguard. Not only do they provide you help if you get into difficulty in the water, you can ask them about conditions (for example, how strong the waves are) and where’s best to swim.
3. Know your flags
It’s your responsibility to obey the signs. Understanding what they mean could save your, or someone else’s, life. Here’s a brief guide:
- Red and yellow flags: Moving as conditions change, these flags mark out the safest place to swim or to use a body-board and inflatables.
- Black and white flags: Usually indicate areas that are specifically for swimmers – they are there to point out no-surf zones in Australia, for example. In the UK and US, however, they mean the opposite. That is, they indicate an area solely for watersports such as surfing and kayaking. So check out specific country guidelines before heading to the water.
- Orange windsock: When an orange windsock is flying it shows there are offshore winds which could push you away quickly when using an inflatable.
- Red flag: Indicates that the current sea conditions are too dangerous to swim in.
4. Check the weather before you go
Before you head to the beach, it’s a good idea to check the weather and tidal conditions. The UK’s Beach Safety Advice Guide suggests thinking about whether you could become cut off by venturing out and warns not to take any risks – trying to climb cliffs as a short cut, for instance.
5. Play safely
If you’re going to the beach with kids, it’s likely they’ll want to build sand castles, which is great. But, to stay safe, it’s not a good idea to dig deep holes because the sand will cave in at some point.
By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have an enjoyable trip to the beach. If you have any other suggestions, please let us know.