SAFETY FIRST

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The Independent Travel
SAFETY FIRST

Nearly 200 peole die in British waters every year, mainly during the summer. It therefore makes sense to swim at a beach where there is a lifeguard, and to make sure that you and your children have a good knowledge of water safety.

There are l,500 trained beach lifeguards working countrywide, although the number of attendants will vary, depending on the local council and on size of the beach. Cornwall and Dorset have particularly well-tended beaches. (Bournemouth is especially well-patrolled.) Even on untended beaches, local councils and tourist boards will provide details of conditions.

THE FLAG SYSTEM

It is not law on British beaches to use flags, but where they are in place it helps to know what they mean.

Yellow and red - lifeguard in attendance.

Red - dangerous, don't swim.

Black-and-white checked flag - surfing only, no swimming.

THE ROYAL LIFESAVING SOCIETY'S SEASIDE SAFETY POINTS

1 Be careful by slippery riverbanks, the edge of canals, locks and weirs where the water flows very quickly.

2 Always follow the advice of the lifeguard, flags or signs which tell you when it is safe to swim.

3 Never go swimming alone, always make sure you are accompanied by someone who can swim.

4 If you see someone in trouble, alert other people. Then reach out with a stick, pole or clothing to the waters edge, lie down and hold on to something so you don't fall in yourself. Call 999 if you can't reach the person.

Children between five and l3 can take special "Rookie" courses run by the Royal Lifesaving Society (01527 853106). Alternatively many schools, scout and brownie groups also run courses.

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