Make sure you have plenty of water to drink. Even on a cool day, the sun and wind can dehydrate you.
Avoid drinking alcohol at the beach. It contributes to dehydration, affects judgement and leads to greater risk-taking. Never enter the water when you’ve been drinking alcohol.
Especially during and following heavy rain, streams and rivers can contain some bacteria and viruses which may cause illness.
During and after periods of heavy rainfall, runoff from agricultural land is greatly increased and bathing water quality can be reduced. This is particularly so in areas of intensive dairy farming like the South West. The Environment Agency is working with Natural England and farmers to encourage better farming practices and improve water quality.
On beaches patrolled by lifeguards, different flags tell you where it’s safest to swim and which areas are set aside for watersports.
The area between the red-and-yellow flags is patrolled by lifeguards. This is the safest place to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables
The red flag indicates that it is dangerous to swim or get in the water. Never go in the water when the red flag is flying.
The area between black-and-white chequered flags is a designated area for watersports such as surfing and kayaking. Never swim or bodyboard here.
Keep Britain Tidy’s Seaside Award guarantees visitors a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed coastal stretch.
The Blue Flag Award is the international quality mark for beaches. They are only awarded to coastal destinations with the highest quality of water, facilities, safety, environmental education and management.
Read the safety signs at the beach entrance to help you identify hazards and find the safest areas to swim. They have information you can give emergency services to help them find you quickly. Information about water quality and potential sources of pollution is also displayed at designated bathing waters.
These services allow beach-goers to make informed decisions about whether to bathe.
South West Water’s voluntary bathing water information service, BeachLive, provides free alerts to beach managers, the Environment Agency and Surfers Against Sewage for beaches in Devon and Cornwall when stormwater overflows may temporarily affect bathing water quality, whilst protecting people and property from internal sewer flooding.
The Environment Agency (EA) has created an online profile for each of the UK’s designated bathing waters. For certain beaches, the EA also issues warnings when rainfall may affect bathing water quality.
The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide also has lots of useful information including water quality, weather, tide forecasts, local beach cleans and wildlife.
Buoyancy aids, such as life rings, are available at most beaches. If the equipment is missing or vandalised, please report it to your local council, the beach manager or the lifeguards.
Watch out for sharp objects/litter hidden in the sand and always take your litter home.
This is especially true of dog poo. Not only is it unpleasant, but the bacteria affect seawater quality.
Please don’t leave leftover food for the birds either. Wild birds, such as seagulls and pigeons, can also affect water quality.
If you care about your local beach, why not get involved with Keep Britain Tidy’s BeachCare programme? Or help monitor levels of litter with the Marine Conservation Society's Beachwatch beach clean survey.
Exploring rock pools is fun, but please remember to follow the Marine Conservation Society Seashore Code: Take photos and memories away with you, not living animals.
Building sandcastles, playing in the sand and digging holes on the beach are all great fun.
Sand can seem pretty harmless, but games such as partially burying people in the sand or sitting in a large dug out hole, can be dangerous. However well dug a hole may seem, sand can be unstable and can slip and fall down, trapping or even suffocating a child.
The South West Coast Path offers stunning views and great walks. But remember that cliffs are not a playground, so please stick to the waymarked Coast Path and stay away from cliff edges and the base of cliffs, as rock falls can happen at any time.
The tide can come in surprisingly quickly. Many lifeboat and lifeguard rescues involve people being stranded by the tide. Find out about the tides from the local tourist information office or from BBC Weather's tide tables.
When you’re on the beach, keep a lookout for the tide’s direction and be aware of how fast the water’s coming in, especially if you’re playing in rock pools.
If you can stand, wade. Don’t swim
Never try to swim directly against the rip or you’ll get exhausted
Keep hold of your board or inflatable to help you float
Raise your hand and shout for help
Swim parallel to the beach until free of the rip, then make for shore.