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Water safety

Whether you’re planning to soak up the sun abroad or stay at home and make the most of the beaches in Essex this summer, it’s important to think about safety.

Every summer the Essex Police Marine Unit deals with families putting themselves in danger in the sea and county’s rivers.

Dip into our advice below to help keep you and your family safe, and remember:

If you do ever find yourself in difficulty in the water, shouting for help or raising your hand in the air will help attract attention.
If you see someone in trouble in the sea, DON'T attempt a rescue. Look for a lifeguard or call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

At the beach

  • Where possible, swim at a beach with a resident lifeguard and avoid swimming alone.
  • If you or your children can’t swim or are learning to swim always wear a life jacket or arm bands.
  • If you can swim, know your limits and stay at a depth that is safe for you. Currents can be deceptively strong so keep an eye on the beach to make sure you don’t drift out too far.
  • Tombstoning or jumping into the sea from piers or high rocks is VERY dangerous and can kill. There's no way of telling how deep the water below is or what rocks lie beneath so don’t take the risk.
  • If you’re taking a trip to the beach, plan your day. Find out what time the tide comes in so you don’t find yourself cut off by high water. Don’t ruin a fun day out by finding yourself stranded!
  • Lilos and inflatables can be great fun for children but are easily pulled out to sea by the lightest of currents. Keep control of your inflatable by tethering it to something solid on the beach like a parents’ wrist. This will help you pull the lilo back in when you need to.
  • If you plan to ride a jet ski, do so safely by steering clear of swimmers. Jet skis being ridden within 200 metres of the shoreline should not exceed 10 mph.

Lakes and rivers

  • Swimming inland in deep water lakes has its dangers too. Taking a dip to cool off on a warm summer’s day may be tempting but the water may be deceptively cold. Plunging into cold water can shock your muscles into cramp, making it difficult for you to swim to safety so be sensible and test the water first.
  • Swimming in locks and weirs may look fun but beware of strong currents beneath.
  • Water can look inviting on a hot day but beware of possible hidden dangers beneath like jagged rocks, broken bottles and weeds. Wear something to protect your feet and watch out for weeds that can trap the strongest of swimmers. If you become trapped, stay calm and slowly work yourself loose or call for help. Raising your hand in the air will help attract attention if you are in need of help.

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