man on beach with son

Beach safety

Beach safety

Beach safety tips:
Tip 1
Choose a lifeguarded beach
Check in advance if the beach you're visiting has a lifeguard
Tip 2
Check local signs and flags for risks
Be aware of dangers and sea conditions
Tip 3
Know your location
If you're not familiar with the area make sure you note down the beach name and address. Other details such as landmarks are also useful to help us find you
Tip 4
Remember Float to Live
If you find yourself in trouble in the water, relax and float with your head back and your ears submerged
Tip 5
Look after each other
Keep a close eye on children and never let them swim alone. Go with others when exploring
If you get in trouble at the beach call 999 and ask for the Coastguard
beach safety image

Signs and flags

Keep an eye out when you arrive at the beach for a sign with important safety information. This may be one of the first things you see on arrival and will give you useful information about the area, as well as any possible dangers.

sign 1
Red and white prohibition sign
Do not enter the water for swimming or other water-related activities.
Yellow hazard sign
Yellow hazard sign
Warns of potential hazards, take extra care to avoid the danger.
No lifeguards sign
No lifeguards sign
No lifeguard service in operation, take extra care and follow safety advice.
Beach flags
Red and yellow flag
Red and yellow flag
Lifeguarded area, make sure you swim between these flags. This is the safest area to swim and bodyboard.
Red flag
Red flag
Danger! Do not enter the water under any circumstances.
Black and white chequered flag
Black and white chequered flag
Area for surfboards, paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. Launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard between these flags.
Orange windstock
Orange windstock
Indicates offshore or strong wind conditions. Offshore winds can make it difficult to return to shore. Be extra cautious when a windsock is flying.
Children on the beach

Children at the beach

Lost children

Busy beaches can disorientate people, especially children and many get lost every year.

Reduce the risks:

  • Agree a meeting point - in case any of your group get lost or separated. If you’re visiting a lifeguarded beach, this could be the nearest lifeguard station.
  • Take a photo of your children - when you first arrive that clearly shows what they look like and what they are wearing, should you need to refer to it.
  • Stay close and be alert – children are safest when supervised so keep a close eye on them.
  • Use a wristband scheme – wristbands are handed out at many beaches, or you can purchase reusable wristbands yourself. Write your mobile phone number on your child's wristband so that you can be called and reunited if you get separated.


Sand play

Although usually harmless, digging large holes can be dangerous if the sand caves in.

Reduce the risks:

  • Avoid digging tunnels or holes deeper than waist height.

  • Fill in any holes you dig before you leave the beach, to avoid injury to others.


Girl on inflatable


Although inflatables might be fun in a swimming pool, they are not suitable for use in the sea. They can easily be swept out by currents or offshore winds.

Reduce the risks:

  • Leave inflatables at home.

  • Choose a lifeguarded beach.

  • Never use inflatables in the sea.

  • Make sure children are supervised.

  • If you get swept out to sea, remain calm and shout for help.

  • If you see an inflatable that’s been blown out to sea, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Cliff dangers at the beach

Cliffs can be more unstable than they look, cliff falls or landslides happen without warning.

Reduce the risks:

  • Take note of warning signs.

  • If you are on the beach, keep clear of the base of cliffs.

  • Stay well back from cliff edges.

  • Never climb a cliff as a shortcut to the top.


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