'Play it safe, be water aware' - Our plea to enjoy Norfolk's waters safely
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A trip to the beach or the Norfolk Broads is high on many people's 'to do lists' during the summer holidays but the county's coastline and inland waterways are not without their hazards.
That is why the Eastern Daily Press, and its sister titles the North Norfolk News and Great Yarmouth Mercury, are today launching a joint campaign that aims to ensure everyone visiting Norfolk's waters this year stays safe and remembers their day out for all the right reasons.
Called 'Play it safe, be water aware' the campaign has the backing of the RNLI and the Broads Authority.
The campaign comes after HM Coastguard and the RNLI warned this summer is widely expected to be one of the busiest on record with research carried out by the organisations suggesting 30 million people plan to visit the UK coast between May and September.
Nick Ayers, the RNLI’s regional water safety lead, said there were a number of factors people needed to be aware of when visiting Norfolk's coastline including rip currents and tidal ranges.
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He said above all, the RNLI's advice was to visit a lifeguarded beach, swim between the red and yellow flags and to leave inflatables at home.
Mr Ayers said: "Rip currents can take people out to sea, make sure you swim between the two flags, and if you get into trouble float on your back."
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"Don't use inflatables, we are really encouraging people not to use them on the sea or open water. They can be picked by the wind incredibly quickly."
Mr Ayers said North Norfolk and especially areas such as Brancaster experienced large tidal ranges which could mean people exploring the coast could quickly become cut off by rising tides and water pooling between sand bars.
He said: "At low tide, you can walk out quite far, but before you know it the tide is racing back in.
"At Brancaster, there's a wreck and we would really encourage people not to visit the wreck, enjoy the beach and if you do want to go for a long walk make sure you are checking the tide times and if you're not sure talk to local people on the ground."
Inland, Rob Rogers, head of operations at the Broads Authority, said the organisation was also expecting it to be a busy summer and was already seeing high numbers of new and returning visitors to the Norfolk Broads.
He said key safety tips for how to safely enjoy the Norfolk Broads were to be prepared, wear a life jacket, avoid alcohol and not to go swimming.
Mr Rogers said the most important piece of safety equipment anyone visiting the broads, from novices to experienced sailors, could use was a life jacket.
He said: "I think people forget boats have propellors, the water looks inviting especially on a hot day but the water is tidal so it changes and it's cold, even in the summer.
"We advise people not to swim and I know it looks inviting but there are water plants in there and the broads are known for their water plants. You can't see what you're swimming in."
Mr Rogers said alcohol was also a big risk factor.
"Don't booze and cruise if you're in charge of boats, you wouldn't drink and drive," he said.
Mr Rogers said the BA fully supported the EDP's water safety campaign and "any campaign" helped highlight safety information was a step in the right direction."
"The Broads Authority are there to provide a national park that's fit of all and part of that that is sharing a safety message," he said.
Where are Norfolk's lifeguarded beaches?
Norfolk has a number of lifeguarded beaches, where trained lifeguards are on hand during the summer months to offer advice on water conditions, and keep a watchful eye over beach users.
The following beaches have lifeguards:
- Sheringham east and west beaches
- West Runton
- East Runton
- Cromer east and west beaches
- Sea Palling
- Hemsby Beach
- Great Yarmouth
- Lowestoft north and south beaches
- Whatever you are doing on or in the water be aware of the risks, never go alone and look out for each other
- On the coast, always go to lifeguarded beaches and swim between the red and yellow flags. Before you enter the water, check the conditions, make sure they don't exceed your ability and once in the water take a moment to adjust to the temperature.
- Near the water, be careful of edges, be aware of tides and do not drink alcohol.
- If taking part in water sports, wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid, carry a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch to call for help if you need it and make sure you have someone on the shore to provide you with safety cover. If you are paddleboarding ensure you are using a leash. And if on inland waterways be aware of the dangers of propellers.
- If you get into trouble, float on your back while you catch your breath and to save energy. Keep calm and once you're able call for help.
- If you see someone else in trouble call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. Stay safe. Throw the person in trouble a line or something that floats if you are able. Stay safe, do not enter the water yourself.