SURF CANARIE'S BEACH SAFETY TIPS
By Daniel Alcock
As easter is here and we are going to use the beach more and more. It is very important to stay safe so here are SURF CANARIE'S BEACH SAFETY TIPS:
Tide - It is easy for even the best of us to get caught out, but a little bit of attention and planning goes along way. For example, knowledge of whjether the tide is rising or falling will save you getting your things wet and looking less like the silly tourist, but also can help you and your family get cut off from the rest of the beach
Waves - Whilst here in the south we often have a very calm sea, it is possible that we have ground swell. These are waves which come occassionally in sets (often known as "freak waves") they can be very powerful but worst of all, unexpected. keep an eye out for such conditions. Observing abeach for 20 minutes should establish whether these bigger "set waves" are arriving, so don'trush straight into the water, hold the kids back a few moments longer to really get an idea of the situation.
Rip Tides - Where there are waves there are rip tides. These arenot necesassarly bad (us surfers use them as a kind of chair lift to get out past the waves!) but they must be understood and respected.
This diagram of Playa Del Hombre (a red flag beach) shows how a rip tide works. Very simply, as waves move into the beach, this excess water must run off. it does so in channels either side of the waves.
This means that the swimmer should be very aware of the parts of the beach where there are less waves, particually if the surface looks rippled. These are usually marked off with red flags, however not always. NEVER GET IN THE WATER IF YOU THINK THERE IS POSSIBLY A RIP TIDE.
Red Flags - Never bath at beach (or a part of the beach) which is red flagged. Even if you can't see the danger it is possible that even though you are only up to your waist, an unusual set wave can come, followed by the inevitable rip current. The Red Cross are usually available on popular beaches, ask their advice (whenever possible) on bathing.
What to do if caught in a rip? - Don't panic! It sounds easy to say but really, if you keep a cool head then you are in a much better situation. Let me explain. These rips are very narrow. Resist the temptation to swim against the rip, swim 90 degrees from it (preferably in the direction of people). This will quicky release you from the rip and allow you to swim in. Obviously, if you have a surfboard or bodyboard, you are in a far better situation because you always have your boyancy with you.
Drinks - it is very important to drink plenty of fluids whilst on the beach, even if you are not thirsty as this cools the body and keeps it hydrated.
Slip, Slop, Slap: The old Australian health campaign of "Slip on a shirt, Slop on some cream and slap on a hat" will keep you cool, fresh and protected from the sun.
The suncream should be good and waterproof. In the Surf School, we exclusivley use ISDIN which is a pharmacy brand suncream, a little more expensive but worth it.
Sunnies - It is very important to protect the eyes from the sun. Again, quality of glasses is important , but doesn't neceassarly go with price - reputable brands and make surf that they are 100 UV protected.
Snacks - Particually when doing sport, it's always important to take some food for energy levels. Don't eat too much beofre you head into the water and allow some time for digestion.
. Before you go to the beach, particually with children, make sure you are prepared. Take plenty of suns cream, water, and clothes. Also have some knowledge of the beach and tides and (if possible) the sea state.
.On arrival, take time to look at the noticeboard on entrance to the beach, paying particular attention to the beach safety specific to that beach.
. Set up camp close to the Red Cross. If you need them, they'll be closer!
. Don't jump straight in! - watch the conditions. If the waves are coming from a long way away, they come far more separated - as long as 20 minutes apart! Entertain the kids with beach games to start with...
. NEVER swim in a red flag area
. If you see someone in trouble and drifting out to sea, resist the temptation to go after them alone. Always go in with boyancy (surfboard or body board) and send someone to advice emergency services
So stay safe and enjoy beach life!!