Stay safe on the seafront this winter

Seafront Officers are urging residents and visitors to stay safe and keep away from the sea this winter.

The warning comes as the Christmas holiday season approaches and the mild winter weather draws more people onto the beaches.

“Everyone enjoys a bracing stroll on the promenade over the festive season but we would urge people to stay on the path or high up on the beach, especially when the sea conditions are rough,” said Brighton & Hove City Council’s Seafront Manager Chris Ingall.

Hidden dangers

Chris explained how the beach at Brighton & Hove differs from other south coast beaches and has hidden dangers.

“Unlike many other beaches, where you can gradually enter the water, Brighton & Hove beach has a steep shingle slope making it difficult to leave and enter the water especially during the four hours over the high tide period,” he said.

“The combination of winds coming in from multiple directions and steep shingle banks increases the risk of being swept out to sea.”

Parents are urged to keep a close eye on children, holding their hands when on the beach and stopping them from playing ‘chicken’ with the surf washing up the beach.

Dog owners are also being advised to keep their pets on leads and away from the shoreline in rough sea conditions. 

No Christmas Day swim

The council will once again be taking extra measures to discourage swimmers from taking a Christmas Day dip by closing access to the beaches around Brighton Pier.

“As open water swimming has become more popular over the last few years, we are seeing more groups of swimmers gathering for winter swim sessions,” said Chris.

“It is extremely important that those wishing to enjoy this invigorating and extreme form of free and healthy activity, fully understand the real dangers involved.

“Cold water sea swimming takes skill, stamina and knowledge of the physical dangers and should only be for the very experienced, using suitable wetsuits, in very calm conditions and with friends. Even on a calm day sea currents, unpredictable waves or a sudden change in weather can create life threatening hazards without warning. Even experienced swimmers can get caught out.

“Check the conditions on the day and consider all those in the group, the sea will be there tomorrow, don’t take unnecessary risks, that could threaten your life or others trying to help!” 

Chris added that the seafront team is always happy to advise swimmers on sea conditions. “We have constant updates on the weather conditions and would urge anyone wondering whether it’s safe to swim to ask us first.”

The seafront office 2019 tide timetables for the Brighton & Hove beaches should be available shortly. Information within the booklet also includes a map showing lifeguard stations and a list of seafront events.