Seafront officers are urging residents, visitors and their families to stay safe when visiting the seafront this winter
The warning comes as Christmas approaches and families head for the seafront and 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 seafront officer Fabian Bull.
“Keep little ones close and hold their hands at all times when walking on the beaches. Large waves can easily knock people over, pulling them into the sea - the smaller the person the greater the risk.”
Advice for swimmers
Officers are also offering advice for those planning on sea swimming over the festive period.
"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,” added Fabian.
“We understand that people will be considering a Christmas day dip this year but it's 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.
“Swimming in clothes is not advisable as these can get weighed down by the water,” said Fabian, “Also entering the water after a night of drinking alcohol over the festive period can impair ability and accelerate hyperthermia.
“There is no lifeguard service at this time of year. If you get into difficulty, remember you are putting extra pressures on emergency services and volunteers like HM Coastguard and the lifeboat service.”
He added that, 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.
“The combination of strong winds and steep shingle banks increases the risk of being swept out to sea. 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 help
Members the seafront team are 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,” said Fabian.
There's more information on the seafront pages of our website.