Blackpool Council - Seaside Safety
28 March 2017
Seaside Safety Guide - Easter Bank Holiday
Prepared by Blackpool Beach Patrol
If you’re heading down to the beach this Easter it’s a great way to spend your time relaxing as the beach and sea can be very inviting. However these warm sunny days can also be very misleading with temperatures still very cold at around 10’C and seldom reaching 17’C on a hot summer’s day. Compare this with our normal body temperature at 37’C this comes at quite a shock.
Whilst the beach is a fun and exciting place, it can also be dangerous if you don’t take a few minutes to plan your day carefully. From being washed out to sea, pulled under by a strong current or simply misjudging the conditions when they are dangerous, it’s really important to understand that every beach is different and has its own set of hazards.
- Cold Water
The sea temperatures in the UK are generally very chilly, with temperatures below 15 degrees most of the year. If you suddenly enter the water this cold, your body can react uncontrollably making it difficult to breath and swim. To avoid this make sure you enter the water gradually or wear a wetsuit to help you acclimatise to the temperature!
- Rip Currents
A rip current is a body of water that flows out to sea and catches many water-goers off guard.
The tide can change very quickly and can often catch people unaware, being cut off on a sandbank by the incoming tide. It’s important to check the local tide times and be aware of your surroundings.
- Large waves
Large dumping waves are the most dangerous to swim in, and can knock you off your feet into deeper water.
There are many reasons why people get into difficulty.
Between 400 - 600 people a year drowned in the UK with 20% of this figure around the coast.
The reasons why people drown can usually be accounted for through one of the following factors
- Uninformed or unrestricted access to the water hazard
- Ignorance, disregard or misjudgement of danger
- Lack of supervision
- Inability of the casualty to cope (or to be rescued) once in difficulty.
A hierarchy of control measures increasing in the level of control range from:
- Safety Leaflets
- Public Education
- Information signs
- Warning signs
- Prohibition signs
- Physical barriers
- Public Rescue Equipment
- Advanced Lifesaving Equipment
- Trained surveillance
- First aid facility
- Qualified Beach Lifeguards (with appropriate equipment)
The inability to cope once in difficulty can often result in involuntary submersion. Even good swimmers can find their ability severely impaired in cold and fast moving water. Under water obstructions can significantly affect someone’s ability to cope in open water
Ø Education and information
Ø Denial of access and/ or provision of warnings/information
Ø Acquisition of rescue and survival skills
Ø Supervision and provision of rescue equipment
Together these measures constitute a drowning prevention strategy to help control the risk
The Safe Code
The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) are very pro-active in trying to get water safety messages out.
Whether you’re at the pool, the beach, a lake, or by a river, use the Safe Code to make sure that you enjoy the water safely
- Spot the dangers - each kind of water offers a different danger
- Advice – take advice
- Friend – always go with a friend
- Emergency – learn how to help in an Emergency
Further information and education including the RLSS Rookie Lifeguard programme, survive and save Programme or the National Pool and Beach Lifeguard Qualifications can be found at:
The Beach Patrol has revamped its Seaside Safety Leaflet that tells a child how to stay safe in Blackpool. These key safety messages could be given to children now and could make a real difference and save a life.
Identified below are some safety tips to watch out for along the seashore, to help you make the most of your visit to the beach and to help you stay safe:
- Be aware of incoming tides and sandbanks – be careful not to get cut-off by the tide when walking on the beach
- Be aware of the waves – waves are formed by the wind blowing across the surface of the sea. These can be very dangerous.
- Be aware of the Sun – Spending just a short time in the sun can result in sunburn, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke
- Missing Children – If you become separated from your child, try not to panic. Notify the Police or the Beach Patrol immediately who will conduct a search
- Inflatables – Do not use inflatables in the sea. It only takes a light breeze to blow an inflatable out to sea
- Public Lifesaving Equipment – such as lifebelts are placed at every access point to the beach.
If you do get into trouble in the sea, stick your hand in the air and shout for help, and if you see someone in difficulty, never attempt a rescue. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard immediately. Alternatively let a Beach Lifeguard know.
Blackpool Beach Patrol works with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and HM Coastguard (HMCG) and has strong links with the RNLI. These are the organisations responsible for preventing loss of life, continuously improving maritime safety, and protecting the marine environment in the sea around the UK.
Blackpool Beach Patrol is actively involved in assisting the RNLI develop a Community Lifesaving Plan for Blackpool. The team is also working with RNLI to promote the RNLI’s national ‘Respect the Water’ campaign throughout the season to help make our beaches even safer.
Safety on Beaches - ROSPA
A comprehensive Guide for Beach Lifeguards & Service providers - RLSS
A guide to Beach Safety Signs, Flags & Symbols - RNLI