People flock to the beach to relax and enjoy their time away from the hustle and bustle of life.
Unfortunately, you can relax too much and think nothing of heading into the sea with paddleboards, surfing or just swimming, but the sea takes no prisoners.
Many people dont realise about rip tides and changing tides, and treat the sea like a swimming pool, with the attitudes of I can swim, it's ok.
All the years of living in this county, I have heard of many not making it home, and to be honest, even living here and realising about the dangers I have been caught out, its very quick.
Here is a couple of examples of my own personal experiences with the Sea that can catch you out.
• When I was a child at Polzeath beach, I went for a surf, the sea was fairly crowded, but during the surf I came off my board only to come up to be hit by a crashing wave, knocking me down again.
Over and over again, it kept happening, and I couldn't stay up long enough before being knocked down again; luckily, some guy saw my struggles and pulled me up and out of the water; even though there were lifeguards, they cant always spot everything.
• Recently, I recently went out on the paddleboard with my friend; we decided that as the tide was low, we would head over to the next beach.
That day there was a warning of a huge swell coming in from the Atlantic, and stupidly I accidentally misheard and thought it was a different day, so the day I went was going to be fine.
One moment we had a gentle paddle in low tide and calm waters, but heading back, it all changed so suddenly. I can only describe it as the sea just got very angry; the tide came in so fast and was churning, making it so difficult to paddle against.
We were exhausted by now; no matter how much we paddled to get back to our beach, it got further away, it took an hour to get back, it was scary and another lesson learned.
Tragically that day, 2 people lost their lives on that stretch of water because of the fast surge.
This isn't a blog to scare people away from the Sea, and we just want you to take note of the dangers and have fun in the Ocean and rivers, but safely.
A lot is common sense, but here are a few simple tips,
1 - Always accompany your children in the sea; we heard a story of a child being swept out to sea, being rescued, taken back to their parents who didn't realise anything was wrong.
2 - Pay attention to the flag system; if your swimming stay within those designated areas
3 - Use a beach with lifeguards
4 - Check the tides and conditions for that day
5 - Let someone know when you are going into the sea
There are signs put out for your safety which you MUST not ignore.
• Designated swimming, bodyboards and inflatables. if your any of these stay between the flags.
• Stay between these flags if you are surfing or stand up paddleboarding or kayaking.
• DO NOT enter the water when this flag is flying.
• Strong wind conditions, so don't use inflatables when you see this flag.
• Swimming is not permitted at this site.
RIP TIDES - These are extremely dangerous as they are strong offshore currents that can quickly take you from the shallows to out of your depth. These are some of the biggest causes of accidental drownings in the world.
If you get caught in a Rip, then don't panic; once you realise you have been taken out of your depth, start swimming parallel to the shore, and you will swim out of the current, and you can head back in to shore.
TIDES - Tides can catch you out very quickly, and being cut off is a real risk and very scary, its another big reason the R.N.L.I are called out.
Tides change in height and times each month, so it's always best to check them before you head out.
There are two different tides.
• Spring Tides - Greater depth range so the tide will venture further up the beach.
• Neap Tides - Less variation, so won't come in as far.
Check out this site for TIDE TIMES.
If you are on a river with your paddleboard, it's always best to check tide times, as you don't want to be paddling against the tide, for example, you want to head out for an hour if it says high tide at 12pm then go paddling inland away from the sea and leave at 11 am, go with the tide then it will start heading back out to sea again after 12 pm, which will be easier for you to get back.
COLDWATER SHOCK - Anything under 15c is classed as cold water. With the average temperature of the sea in the U.K being 12c, it's a genuine factor that your body could suffer in these waters if you're not careful. It can affect your breathing and affect your movements. It can cause your heart rate to increase, creating heart attacks.
The sudden cooling can also cause involuntarily gasps of breath, which in turn can mean inhaling water, and it only takes half a pint of water inhaled into your lungs to start drowning.
To reduce the risk of cold water shock.
• Wear a wetsuit
• Relax and let the initial shock of the water pass, after about a minute
• If you feel in trouble, don't panic and float on your back
Another great website to check tide times and conditions are Magicseaweed
This all sounds like scary stuff, but the sea can be scary, but if you take note and plan your trip, a beach is a fun place to be. It can create magical memories for you and your family, and you will be able to do it year after year; sadly, some families don't get that opportunity.
There is more detailed information here at the R.N.L.I Website the R.N.L.I do an amazing job. Donate if you possibly can they could be there for you one day.