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Ten Tips to Save a Life - Enjoying the Beach Safely

Updated: Jul 4

Summer is here, the days are warmer, and school is almost out. We can not imagine anything better than a day at the beach relaxing, exploring and having fun. However the facts are that 49% of accidental drownings and 75% of incidents that require a Lifeguard, occur between May and the end of August. We want you to have the best beach days and make great memories so here are our top Ten Tips to Save a Life.


Group of five snorkellers in deep water, staying together as group - teamwork
Snorkellers at Selsey

1.      Teamwork – never go alone it is always best to go with a buddy even you are not venturing far from shore. Make sure someone else not with you knows where you are going, you can arrange to call them when you are home, so they know you had a good time, and it has the bonus you can tell them about the fabulous day you had!


2.      Know your location – What do you know about the beach you are planning to visit? A little research can go a long way, you can find out about tides and currents, local rules or any restrictions. Being prepared can make the difference, could you spot a rip current or know how fast the tide is running? Local water sports companies will be willing to share important information on conditions but there are also great resources online to help with everything from wind strength, swell and wave frequency – check out Big Salty to see if they have a location close to you.


3.      Know your Beach Flags – many of our popular beaches offer a Lifeguard presence and use a series of flags to tell you about important information.  Do know what the flags mean – you can download a helpful guide with lots of safety information, including the flags from the Royal Life Saving Society UK

Beach flag made up of four squares, black and white. It marks a surfer only area
Black and white quarters Surfing area, swimmers keep out

4.      Enter the Water Slowly – the sun may be hot, but the water will be cooler. During June air temperature has reached 22-24 degrees but water temperature at Selsey is just reaching 16 degrees. Entering cold water can be a real shock to the system, leading to gasping and even hyperventilation which can cause you to inhale water and struggle to keep floating. Give your body time to adjust, relax and control your breathing before heading off to swim and explore


5.      Have the Right Exposure Suit - We know you do not necessarily want to pull on a wet suit on a hot day, it is not sounding like fun right now, but if you are water lover, they are an essential piece of equipment. You cool off between 25 and 30 times faster in water than on land. Minutes quickly add up and then add in wind chill! In just ten minutes of snorkelling, you could cool as much as 4 hours sitting outside. Exposure suits come in all thicknesses and designs including long sleeve costumes, separates, shorties to full suits – some like Ultra Skin even have a wind proof layer

Six individuals in full length wet suits entering the sea from a sandy beach
Prepared for the Open Water


6.      Be Positively Buoyant – this is important for everyone but particularly snorkellers, freedivers and mermaids. If you exhale fully, could you float at the surface? If the answer is no, you may not be able to float when you need to and will have to work much harder to maintain the float. You can wear buoyancy aids like life jackets, but a good fitting wet suit will so the same thing and protect you from the sun and cold.

Orange water float with Snorkeller in Open Water
Safety First - Float for visibility

7.      Be Visible – A float is an essential piece of equipment, it alerts other water users to your presence, the right one can be used as a rescue tool and means you are visible from shore or perhaps the boat searching for you. There are options you can tie to your waist from as little as £10, we do like our torpedo when out exploring!


8.      Never use Inflatables in Open Water – I know we said be visible and they are often brightly coloured, but many are toys designed for pool use. In the open water they are caught in the wind, and you may find yourself swept out to sea. Another plus to not using them is it is one less piece of plastic to buy!


9.      Float to Live – If it does go wrong follow the RNLI advice and Float to Live. Key points to remember, lie back and get you ears submerged, relax and breathe normally. Your legs might sink, this is OK, we all float differently, do not fight it, lie back and use your hands if needed.

Female in full wet suit lying on back, arms extended, floating on the surface
Float to Live - Relax and breathe


10.  Know How to Get Help– Sounds easy but make sure everyone in your group knows where the phone is, who to call (999 or 112) and where you are. The What3words app is a great way to pinpoint location. Having a little script with your phone for people to follow with key information can save time and remove any confusion.


There are lots of courses around to help you develop water safety skills and confidence, this August we have four running for younger water lovers. Covering aspects of how to safely enjoy the water, how equipment helps you, methods to properly rescue someone and when it is appropriate to get in the water.

Enjoy your summer and let’s get those percentages down in 2024 and enjoy safe beach days making memories to keep us warm in cooler months.

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