So many of us love the moment when we see that wide open expanse of water for the first time in a while; from the cool North Sea, to the warmer waters of the Mediterranean, to the wild expenses of the Atlantic and beyond.
Jumping into the water by the beach is a joy for swimmers, both young and old (and all in-between!), and yet it’s not uncommon for children and adults to get into difficulty by the sea even if they’re not far from the shore. Hidden currents, changes in water depth, and the misuse of inflatables all contribute to many swimmers needing assistance in the form of a lifeguard – and sometimes a coast guard – to get them safely back to shore.
With that in mind, if you’re planning a trip to the seaside over the coming weeks or months, take a moment to check out our 10 Simple Tips for Water Safety at the Beach.
Do Your Research
If you’re booking a holiday, ask your travel agent if the beach(es) nearby is/are safe, and whether trained lifeguards will be on duty. Your travel agent should know about the amenities for the resort or area you intend to visit, so they’ll be happy to put you at your ease. If you’re booking the holiday independent of any travel agency, take a moment to do an online search, and review nearby beaches, so you’re fully aware of what will be near your hotel or accommodation.
Catch Them Early!
You’ve just arrived at your holiday accommodation, and the kids are eager to jump into the pool, but you’ve not even unpacked yet. What harm, if they explore while you look after the grown-up chores?
Actually, it may cause harm. The most common time for children to have accidents while on holiday is within the first hour of arrival, when parents are unpacking and distracted. Parents should take care during this time, to make sure that they know where their children are.
Be an Explorer
Once you’ve unpacked, take a trip to the beach and see for yourself what the potential dangers may be, before going into the sea or allowing your little ones to dive in. This doesn’t have to be a chore; a little wander and look-around means you can get accustomed to your getaway surroundings, while keeping an eye on safety at the same time.
Out of Sight, Out of Hope?
While at the beach, don’t ever let your young swimmers out of your reach. Supervision is the key to preventing serious accidents in the water, and children are especially vulnerable in the water if they are not familiar with their surroundings. Keep your kids and young swimmers nearby in the water with you, and don’t leave them on their own for any period of time.
Ask the Locals
When travelling, don’t be afraid to ask the local community for advice. For example, you should ask lifeguards, tourist information offices, local coastguard stations, or even local fishermen, about where and when it is safe to stroll on the beach or enter the water. They’ll be happy to help you out.
Avoid a Rocky Road
It should go without saying, but do not swim near, or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater and coral. It’s too dangerous, especially in an area of part of the coastline that you are likely to be unfamiliar with. Even experienced swimmers are discouraged from swimming or diving around these areas as the risks are too great.
What’s Your Sign?
Water safety signage can be very different in varying countries, so find out what local warning flags and signs mean – and adhere to them. Your travel agent, hotel or local lifeguard will be able to help you understand the local signage and flags mean, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Don’t Go a-Floatin’!
Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard; there have been drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea and get into trouble. Do not use them in open water. Use them in sheltered and confined spaces, such as rock pools, or – better still – the hotel pool!
Beware that Sinking Feelin'
If you get stuck in quicksand or mud, don’t panic, and don’t try to stand up. Lie down, spread your weight, shout for help, and move slowly in a breaststroke action towards the shore.
Get the Lingo Right
Many people living around holiday resorts and towns will have a good grasp of English, but should you witness an emergency, know how to call for help in the local language. Many phrasebooks and holiday travel guides will have an ‘SOS’ section, which will include how to call for help, ask for a doctor or medic, or for an ambulance. You can contact the local emergency services across the EU by calling 112, but many countries also use 999. If in doubt, ask someone to call the local emergency services instead.
Being safe by the sea doesn’t need to take away the fun of getting away for a few days, but it may make the difference between a great trip away, to a disastrous one. For more water safety tips, visit our Water Safety blog or visit our Speedo partners for water safety, the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) website.