Keeping safe on waterways and at the coast

Whether you’re on a boat, pleasure craft, or planning to go for a swim, make sure you know how to keep yourself safe on waterways. This includes understanding about lifeguards, safety flags, waves, tides, currents, knowing the dangers and what to do if you get into difficulty.

Understand the risks

Getting into trouble in water can happen quickly and unexpectedly.

Be aware of the risks and try to be as safe as possible.

If you’re on a boat or pleasure craft you should wear a buoyancy jacket or lifejacket.

If you fall into water unexpectedly, find out what you should do.  Don't forget the international distress signal of hand waving and shouting for help.

If you see someone in difficulty, don't get into the water to try and save them. If you have something that floats or that they can hold on to, throw it to them.

If you’re at a beach either tell a lifeguard or phone 999/112 and ask for the coastguard.

Lifeguards and safety flags

Whenever possible, try to find a beach with a lifeguard and always obey the safety flags and signs.

Understanding waves, tides and currents

Understanding tides and currents will help you stay safe if you like to go swimming in the sea.

Find out how to identify safe waves to swim in and how to spot a rip current.

It's important to check the tide times for the beach you're visiting.

It's also dangerous to jump or dive from a height into water.

Water sports and coastal activities

You can get advice keeping safe when doing watersports and other coastal activities at this link:

More useful links

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