HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE SEASIDE
This year, our beaches are busier than ever- with holidays abroad a no-go for the time being, there’s no better place for a staycation than the Cornish coast. With its azure blue water, sandy coves and rugged cliffs, Cornwall is often likened to a Greek island in the summer months, so it’s no surprise that the beaches and ocean are full of holiday-goers desperate for some sunshine and scenery. That’s why Cornish residents are keener than ever to warn tourists how to stay safe at the beach.
The sea can be a dangerous place, and its unpredictable swells, tides and rip currents can catch out even the most experienced swimmer. ‘The beaches are busy, and we’ve experienced a big swell recently that has already sadly caused fatalities and rescues. We urge surfers and swimmers to be aware, check the weather, tide and forecast’, says Mark Kelly, the Beach Lifeguard Trainer and Assessor at Newquay Activity Centre. “For small children, there is also fun to be had in the rockpools and paddling in the shallows. We want people to understand how dangerous the sea can be and to stay safe at the beach.”
The first step to beach safety is to listen to and look out for safety signals from the RNLI Lifeguard service, who generally patrol the most popular beaches from May- September. Check the lifeguard times of your beach of choice before heading down and plan your swim within their patrol hours, particularly if you are swimming with children. Checking tide times and surf conditions before your visit is always handy, too, to ensure you know what conditions to expect.
Before entering the water, be sure to always check the flags flying on the shoreline. Bathers and bodyboarders should always swim between the red and yellow flags, whilst surfers should stick to the black and white checkered flags. This is crucial- the lifeguards position these flags in the safest stretch of sea in order to prevent swimmers being caught in rip currents, and keeping everyone in one place makes it easier for them to keep an eye on everyone in case of any incidents. If the red flag is flying, this means the current sea conditions are far too dangerous, so do not enter the water.
Swimming within your depth is always the safest option- if the waves look big, stay near the shore where you won’t get washed under. Look out for any bodyboarders who may be coming towards you, and likewise if you are trying your hand at bodyboarding, just be sure that your path is clear when riding a wave in!
If you do get caught in a rip current, the best thing to do is stay calm, tread water with your legs and wave your arms in the air- this will attract help. On beaches with no lifeguard patrols, it is even more important to stay safe in the ocean, assessing the conditions before you go in and not swimming out of your depth.
Newquay Activity Centre instructors are fully trained lifeguards and have traditionally supported the RNLI during busy times. During this peak season, they will be on hand to help and are increasing their observation on the beach and when they are on the water.
Alongside following RNLI advice, lifeguard trainer and assessor Mark Kelly advises beach goers to consider the steps in our handy infogram.
If you want to get even more knowledge on how to be sea safe, Newquay Activity Centre provides lifeguarding qualifications all year round as well as a variety of ocean activities.
If you’d like to participate in a safe ocean activity this summer under the watchful eye of a trained lifeguard, or you would like to train as a lifeguard, please contact newquayactivitycentre.co.uk