RNLI Beach Lifeguards are issuing simple but vital advice to children and grown ups to keep safe on the beach this holiday

With children all over the country breaking up from school for the summer, most families are likely to head to the beach at some point during the holiday. Whether the beach they visit is in the UK, Ireland or further afield, the RNLI’s advice will apply.

RNLI lifeguards who operate in the South and South West of England, helped at least 5917 in the water last year and their statistics show that around 60 children lose their lives annually with many more endangering themselves in the water.

So what do the flags on the beach mean?
Research suggests that only around 54% of people understand the red and yellow flag, and only 28% know what a black and white flag signifies, although more people seem to grasp the meaning of a red flag. The implications of a child not understanding what the flags mean and swimming into the wrong area could end in tragedy, so here’s the lowdown:

Red & Yellow Flag: lifeguards are on patrol. Two red and yellow flags at the waters edge designate a bathing / body boarding zone supervised by lifeguards.

Black & White Flag: the quartered black and white flag indicates the area zoned for surf craft. It is not safe for swimmers and bathers.

Red Flag: it is dangerous to bathe or swim and you should not go into the water.

RNLI safety manager Steve Wills has also issued the following safety advice with regard to inflatable toys on the beach:

“Please take care with inflatable toys – they can be great fun in a pool, but we strongly advise you not to use them in the sea. They are vulnerable even to slight gusts of wind, and using these toys in surf conditions can be extremely hazardous.

If people insist on taking inflatable toys into the sea, they should take the following precautions:

  • Never use an inflatable toy in the sea when the wind is offshore (when the wind is blowing from the shore out to sea) – check flags, smoke and clouds to spot the direction the wind is blowing.
  • Children’s inflatables should always have a strong rope connected – held securely by an adult on the shore.
  • Make sure children are visible and within easy reach at all times.
  • If possible, only use inflatables between the red and yellow flags.
  • Always follow the advice given by the lifeguard.
  • Never use inflatables in strong winds or when you see large waves, or near rivers or inlets with strong currents.”

    For more information on sea safety go to www.rnli.co.uk