The Seafront Officers of Brighton and Hove Council are highlighting the importance of safety for those visiting the seafront this winter, especially as the festive season nears and people are drawn to the beaches.
David Wheeler, the Acting Seafront Operations Manager, encourages everyone to enjoy walks on the promenade during the festive period, but advises staying on the path or higher up on the beach, particularly when sea conditions are rough. He emphasizes the need to keep children close and to hold their hands on the beaches, as large waves pose a significant risk of sweeping people into the sea, with smaller individuals being more vulnerable.
The Seafront Officers of the council are also advising caution regarding swimming on Christmas Day. David notes the increasing popularity of open water swimming and the growing number of groups that gather for winter swim sessions. He stresses that those interested in this challenging and healthy activity should be fully aware of the dangers involved. Cold water sea swimming requires considerable skill, stamina, and an understanding of the risks, and should only be attempted by experienced swimmers, in calm conditions, wearing appropriate wetsuits, and accompanied by friends.
David also points out that even in seemingly calm conditions, sea currents and unpredictable waves, or a sudden change in weather, can quickly become life-threatening. He advises against swimming in clothes, as they can become heavy when wet, and warns against entering the water after consuming alcohol, as it impairs abilities and increases the risk of hypothermia.
He reminds visitors that there is no lifeguard service during this period, and anyone in trouble in the water places additional strain on emergency services and volunteer organizations like HM Coastguard and the lifeboat service.
Brighton & Hove beach is notable for its steep shingle slope, which can make water entry and exit challenging, particularly during high tide. David warns that the combination of strong winds and steep shingle increases the danger of being swept out to sea. He advises checking the day’s conditions and considering the abilities of all group members, urging people not to take unnecessary risks. In case of witnessing anyone in danger or attempting to enter the water under dangerous conditions, he advises calling 999 and requesting the coastguard.