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Water sports and coastal activities - safety advice

Beaches and coastlines are great places to enjoy water sports. Whichever activity you're taking part in, take responsibility for your safety by making sure you're properly trained and prepared for the conditions. Follow these safety tips and find out where to get the right training.

General safety in or on the water

All sports have their own rules but there are some general safety tips that apply to all water activities:

  • get trained - take part in any safety training needed for your sport or activity
  • check the weather and tides before setting out
  • wear a lifejacket - make sure it's the right one for the activity
  • keep in touch - take an appropriate means of communication with you, like a marine band radio or mobile phone
  • tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back
  • don't drink alcohol before going in or on the water

If you see someone in difficulty, don't attempt a rescue - tell a lifeguard, or dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard. These numbers apply in the Republic of Ireland too.

Make sure you understand and obey any safety flags at the beach and pay attention to the lifeguard, if there's one on duty.

Get the right training for your water activity

You'll need to take different safety precautions depending on which activity you're taking part in. You can get specialist advice about the training and safety gear you'll need for each activity from a professional or governing body.

You might also consider joining a local club for qualified support and advice.

Join HM Coastguard's voluntary safety identification scheme

You can register your pleasure craft or leisure vessel, like a canoe or personal watercraft, with the coastguard through the voluntary safety identification scheme (CG66). This means that if you get into difficulty, the coastguard has information about your vessel that will help to identify you.

Follow the link below for more information.

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