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 Operations Manager Chris Ingall.
Powerful and unforgiving
“The recent destruction of part of the Albion Groyne illustrated just how powerful and unforgiving our sea conditions can be,” added Chris. “During Saturday’s high tide, with three metre waves smashing onto the beaches, the south facing section of the groyne was destroyed, creating a large open gap from this seven metre high structure.
“Although the area has now been inspected and barriers installed, we are asking the public to read the signs and stay away from the area.”
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 strong winds 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 sea 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 Palace 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!”
Happy to advise
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 wanting to swim to talk to us first.”
The seafront office 2020 tide timetables for the Brighton & Hove beaches should be available shortly. Information within the booklet also includes a map showing summer lifeguard stations and a list of seafront events.
Try the Lido!
Saltdean Lido will be hosting a Christmas Day swim in its heated pool. There’ll be two sessions:
- 8am to 8.45am
- 9am to 9.45am
Tickets cost £10 and include a hot drink and mince pie. The event was sold out last year, so booking is advisable.