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Whatever you’re planning for your trip to the beach, everyone should be aware of simple beach safety rules. All of our surf lessons start with an introduction to beach safety and follow these simple guidelines.

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The RNLI lifeguards use a coloured flagged system to mark safe swim or surf zones. The area between Red and Yellow Flags is the safe area to swim, bath, bodyboard and use inflatables. The area between Black and White Flags is the safe zone for water hard crafts and surfers. A Red Flag indicates that the beach is closed and that the sea is dangerous. An orange windsock will mean windy conditions and that inflatables should not be taken out. Read more about how to stay safe when surfing or Coasteering in our guides to Surf Lesson Safety and Coasteering Safety.


Always be aware of what the tide is doing. Is the tide coming in or going out? There are many places to check such as surf forecasting websites, tide times booklets or ask at the local lifeguard hut. Many people each year find themselves cut off by the tide, often leaving them stranded and in need of help. The UK and Ireland have some of the largest tides in the world so make sure you know what the tide is doing before you head out.


A Rip Current is a strong offshore current that can easily take swimmers, surfers and bodyboarders out of their depth very quickly. If you find yourself caught in a Rip Current:

  • Stay calm and collected. Do not panic.
  • If you are still able to stand up – attempt to wade through the sea rather than swim
  • Keep hold of any floatation aids that you have with you such as bodyboards, surf boards or inflatables.
  • Raise one arm – wave and shout for help.
  • Never try to swim against the rip current, always swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current
  • Never discard any floatation device that you may have with you

If you see someone else in trouble inform a lifeguard as soon as you can. If there are no life guards on duty, call 999 and ask for the coast guard.


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