14 August 2020

Support our lifeguards – enjoy the sea safely

Visitors, residents and councillors are being encouraged to be sea safe and relieve pressure on lifeguards and emergency services. 

Follow the RNLI’s expert beach safety guidance
Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty has renewed the call to take extra care if going into the sea and not use inflatables following recent tragedies involving inflatable craft.

Share sea safety messages

At yesterday's full council meeting he also asked councillors to play their part in spreading sea safety messages.
Beaches in Brighton & Hove will continue to be busy in exceptionally hot weather, making popular beaches as busy during the week as on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend.
This year has also seen an increase in the number of water users attracted by warm sea temperatures and the closure of swimming pools and other sports facilities. 
This puts extra pressure on the lifeguard service which is operating at a reduced level due to Covid-19 restrictions.

These are in place to keep lifeguards and beachgoers safe and have led to reduced lifeguard services across the country. For example the RNLI is staffing 170 UK beaches with lifeguards, when normally the charity would be covering 240 beaches.       
VisitBrighton is targeting sea safety messages to visitors so they can be prepared before they make their journey to the coast.

Be aware of the dangers

Councillor Mac Cafferty said: 
“This year has seen a huge increase in the number of water users attracted by warm sea temperatures, the closure of swimming pools because of the pandemic and obviously more people than ever holidaying within the UK. We are seeing many people unfamiliar with the sea taking up new activities such as kayaking and boarding. 
"While the sea can look very inviting, we must all remember it can also be extremely dangerous, especially when it’s choppy and the currents are strong. Sadly in just one week our city has lost three people through drowning at sea - Andrea Lauro, Harry Garrood and Matthew Stonely.  
Every day - on the beach in central Brighton particularly - there are incidents where our lifeguards are keeping beach users out of danger and very often saving lives. But we must also thank the RNLI and of course the sterling efforts of the Coastguard and other emergency services.
“Our lifeguards want everyone who comes to Brighton & Hove to have a safe and enjoyable time on our beaches, so please help them and the emergency services by taking responsibility for being safe in the sea. 
“I’m also asking councillors to show their support by sharing sea safety messages with their communities.”

Support our lifeguards

Councillor Mac Cafferty explained that if there was a way to put more lifeguards on our beaches immediately the council would do so, but due to the extra time needed to recruit and train lifeguards, it is just not possible. Options for recruitment and for extending the season are being explored.
It means that not all bathing areas can be covered by lifeguards. Instead, a specific zone is being lifeguarded in each of the Brighton, Hove and Rottingdean beaches in order to meet with Covid-19 requirements. 

Each post has at least two lifeguards with a quad bike to support emergency response to outlying areas.
The seafront team has introduced new procedures for various water rescues, first aid and life support techniques. They have produced protocols for dealing with situations that include mental health crisis, effects from alcohol, drug misuse and lost children.

Play your part and be sea safe

It is more important than ever that everyone plays their part in preventing further tragedies this summer by following sea safety guidance:

  • learn what the beach flags mean, and take them seriously
  • keep close to the shore
  • remember sea swimming is different from being in a pool
  • make sure children are closely supervised
  • teach yourself and children to float in the water – it could save your life
  • always wear a proper life vest, especially children, if using a kayak or SUP 
  • ensure the kayak or SUP is attached to you by a leash
  • overloading a kayak or SUP with people will make it unsteady and unsafe
  • if you get into trouble and have your mobile phone, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard 
  • follow the lifeguard’s advice

Read more about keeping yourself safe on Brighton & Hove's beaches and how to respect the water.

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